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REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES SUPREME COURT MANILA EN BANC REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, - versus SANDIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION), EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., ET AL., Respondents. x - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -x REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, - versus SANDIGANBAYAN (FIRST DIVISION), EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., ET AL., Respondents. x----------------------------x REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, Petitioner, - versus EDUARDO M. COJUANGCO, JR., ET AL., Respondents. x- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - x JOVITO R. SALONGA, WIGBERTO E. TAÑADA, OSCAR F. SANTOS, ET AL., Petitioners-Intervenors. G.R. No. 180702 G.R. No. 169203 G.R. No. 166859
SUPPLEMENT TO THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION
(DATED APRIL 28, 2011)
SUPPLEMENT TO THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (DATED APRIL 28, 2011) G.R. No. 166859, G.R. No. 169203 & G.R. No. 180702 x------------------------x
PETITIONER REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES (Republic), represented by the PRESIDENTIAL COMMISSION ON GOOD GOVERNMENT (PCGG), by counsel, respectfully moves for a reconsideration of the Honorable Court’s Decision promulgated on April 12, 2011. The Republic received a copy of the aforesaid Decision on April 15, 2011. Since the 15-day period, within which the Republic had to file its Motion for Reconsideration—which it did on April 30, 2011—ended on a Saturday (April 30, 2011), the Republic has until May 2, 2011 to supplement its previously filed Motion for Reconsideration, as it does now with the instant “Supplement to the Motion for Reconsideration (dated April 28, 2011).” PREFATORY STATEMENT The truth is not always the same as the majority decision. - Blessed John Paul II
hilippine history of the past four decades has found the Supreme Court settling the most contentious issues that have befallen our times. During the dark ages of the Marcos dictatorship, the Court
was widely perceived to be and criticized for assenting to the late dictator’s whims and caprices, paving the way for the excesses of the two-decade dictatorship—among which is the real subject matter of the Court’s Decision: the challenge to restore the coconut levy in the hands of some 3.5 million Filipino coconut farmers, from the efforts of whose hands the levies were taken. Sadly, save for an all-too-brief two-paragraph advertence to the
SUPPLEMENT TO THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (DATED APRIL 28, 2011) G.R. No. 166859, G.R. No. 169203 & G.R. No. 180702 x------------------------x
dissenting opinion of J. Carpio-Morales, the Decision is bereft of the heart of the matter. Divested of this factual and historical context, it is easy to lose sight of things: mistaking Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. as a mere borrower like any other, and his self-dealings as mere loans or borrowings; mistaking the “mis-taking” and seeing no wrongdoing. A country whose Court is without a sense of history will have a history devoid of sense. Beyond the dictates of judicial notice—be it of the history of the Philippines or of matters which are of public knowledge—there are the demands of justice and the resolve of one’s conscience. The impartiality and independence that Lady Justice’s blindfold signifies is not served by turning a blind eye to the obvious, which if ignored, is to the painful detriment and suffering of others: that the Republic’s duty and right to recover ill-gotten wealth is an effort of paramount and transcendental importance—and that all the matters, issues, and cases relative to such efforts are sui generis. In many ways, these efforts are bound up with the struggle to right the wrongs of history. The Republic, the 3.5 million Filipino coconut farmers, and their families are one in the hope that this Honorable Court will choose to reconsider its Decision—and by doing so, write the right history.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE GROUNDS FOR THE ALLOWANCE OF AND INDICATED IN THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (DATED APRIL 28, 2011) I.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION (DATED APRIL 28, 2011) G.R. No. 166859, G.R. No. 169203 & G.R. No. 180702 x------------------------x
THE HONORABLE COURT CREATED AND CRAFTED A GRAVELY ERRONEOUS DEFINITION OF “ILLGOTTEN WEALTH” (WITHOUT, FIRST, SATISFYING THE CONDITION SINE QUA NON OF STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION), WHICH ERRONEOUS DEFINITION PROVIDED THE BASIS FOR ITS UNFOUNDED AND, LIKEWISE, ERRONEOUS HOLDING THAT “THE REPUBLIC SHOULD FURNISH TO THE SANDIGANBAYAN IN PROPER JUDICIAL PROCEEDINGS THE COMPETENT EVIDENCE PROVING WHO WERE THE CLOSE ASSOCIATES OF PRESIDENT MARCOS WHO HAD AMASSED ASSETS AND PROPERTIES THAT WOULD BE RIGHTLY CONSIDERED AS ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH.” II. ASSUMING ARGUENDO THAT THERE WAS “GROSS NEGLIGENCE” ON THE PART OF SOME OF THE REPUBLIC’S COUNSELS, THE DECISION OF APRIL 12, 2011 WOULD UNJUSTLY AND UNFAIRLY DEPRIVE THE REPUBLIC OF DUE PROCESS AND A REAL OPPORTUNITY TO BE HEARD. II. MATTERS, ISSUES, AND CASES INVOLVING OR RELATING TO THE REPUBLIC’S DUTY AND RIGHT TO RECOVER ILL-GOTTEN WEALTH ARE SUI GENERIS; THUS, IN ORDER TO MEET THE SUBSTANTIAL ENDS OF JUSTICE AND, IN THIS CASE, A MATTER OF TRANSCENDENTAL IMPORTANCE, AS EQUITY DICTATES, A PRO HAC VICE DECISION MUST BE RENDERED IN FAVOR OF THE REPUBLIC— AND THE 3.5 MILLION FILIPINO COCONUT FARMERS AND THEIR FAMILIES WHO HAVE HAD TO ENDURE THE NEARLY FORTY YEAR QUEST FOR JUSTICE. DISCUSSION I. The Honorable Court created and crafted a gravely erroneous
definition of “ill-gotten wealth” (without, first, satisfying the condition sine qua non of statutory construction), which erroneous definition provided the basis for its unfounded and, likewise, erroneous holding that “the Republic should furnish to the Sandiganbayan in proper judicial proceedings the competent evidence proving who were the close associates of President Marcos who had amassed assets and properties that would be rightly considered as ill-gotten wealth.” x----------------------------------x In seeking to justify and rationalize its further actions and additional requirement for the Republic to “furnish to the Sandiganbayan in proper judicial proceedings the competent evidence proving who were the close associates of President Marcos who had amassed assets and properties that would be rightly considered as ill-gotten wealth,” this Honorable Court resorted to an elaborate construction of the term “ill-gotten wealth” based upon the premise that an explicit definition of “ill-gotten wealth” does not exist in the Executive Orders and other issuances, relating to the PCGG and its mandates. This Court, thus, stated that:
Although E.O. No. 1 and the other issuances dealing with ill-gotten wealth (i.e. E.O. No. 2, E.O. No. 14, and E.O. No. 14-A) only identified the subject matter of ill-gotten wealth and the persons who could amass ill-gotten wealth and did not include an explicit definition of ill-gotten wealth, we can still discern the meaning and concept of ill-gotten wealth from the WHEREAS Clauses themselves of E.O. No. 1, in that ill-gotten wealth consisted of the “vast resources of the government” amassed by “former President
Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives and close associates both here and abroad.” It is clear, therefore, that ill-gotten wealth would not include all the properties of President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, and close associates but only the part that originated from the “vast resources of government.”1 [Emphasis mine]
This Honorable Court has had numerous occasions2 to discuss the condition sine qua non before it may proceed to construe or interpret the law, as it once again did in the case of United Paracale Mining Company, Inc., and Coco Grove, Inc. v. Honorable Joselito Dela Rosa,3 when it explained that:
xxx. A condition sine qua non before the court may construe or interpret a statute is that there be doubt or ambiguity in its language. xxx. Time and again, it has been repeatedly declared by this Court that where the law speaks in clear and categorical language, there is no room for interpretation. There is only room for application. Where the law is clear and unambiguous, it must be taken to mean exactly what it says and the court has no choice but to see to it that its mandate is obeyed. [Emphasis mine.]
Contrary to this Honorable Court’s introductory discussion and rationale for the Court’s statutory construction of the concept of “ill-gotten wealth,” and without satisfying the immediately quoted “condition sine qua non” for resorting to statutory construction, the ostensibly missing definition is easy to find, as it, in fact, clearly exists and is plainly defined under the Rules of the PCGG—and the definition is clear and unambiguous, apart from being extant. The Rules of the PCGG are the
The Decision, pp. 45-46. Agpalo, Ruben, Statutory Construction (2009), p. 124, footnote number citing “Banawa v. Mirano, G.R. No. 24750, May 16, 1980, 97 SCRA 517; Resins, Inc. v. Auditor General, G.R. No. 17888, October 29, 1968, 25 SCRA 754; Guevara v. Inocentes, G.R. No. 2557, March 15, 1966, 16 SCRA 379.” 3 G.R. Nos. 63786-87, April 7, 1993.
very same Rules that this Honorable Court in its Decision of April 12, 2011 referred to and relied on as basis for invalidating PCGG’s Writs of Sequestration in G.R. No. 166859. Section 1 of the Rules of the PCGG states:
SECTION 1. Definition.—(A) “Ill-gotten wealth” is hereby defined as any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of persons within the purview of Executive Orders Nos. 1 and 2, acquired by them directly, or indirectly thru dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any of the following means or similar schemes: (1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury; (2) Through the receipt, indirectly, of any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in the connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the official concerned. (3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the government or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities or government-owned or controlled corporations; (4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stocks, equity, or any other form of interest or participation in any business enterprise or undertaking; (5) Through the establishment of agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combination and/or by the issuance, promulgation and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; and (6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship or influence for personal gain or benefit.
In addition, not only are the Rules of the PCGG not deficient in providing the foregoing definition, it even defines what may be deemed prima facie ill-gotten wealth:
SECTION 9. Prima facie evidence.—Any accumulation of assets, properties, and other material possessions of those persons covered by Executive Orders Nos. 1 and 2, whose value is out of proportion to their known lawful income is prima facie deemed ill-gotten wealth.
Finally, consistent with its quasi-judicial function,4 the Rules of the PCGG further entrusts to the PCGG the investigation and
determination of what may be considered “ill-gotten wealth,” as a plain reading of its Sec. 7, on the “Conduct of investigations” clearly provides:
SECTION 7. Conduct of investigations.—The Commission may conduct a hearing, after due notice to the party or parties concerned within the purview of Executive Orders Nos. 1 and 2, to ascertain whether any particular asset, property or enterprise constitutes ill-gotten wealth and to determine the appropriate action to be taken in order to carry out the purposes of said Executive Orders. xxx [Emphasis mine.]
Even assuming that resort to statutory construction was proper, it is respectfully submitted that this Honorable Court misappreciated, by taking out of context, the doctrinal values of the cases of Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co., Inc. v. Presidential Commission on Good Government (“BASECO”), Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Lucio C. Tan (“TAN”), Francisco I. Chavez v. Presidential Commission on Good Government (“CHAVEZ”), on the one hand, and the cases of Republic of the Philippines v. Hon. Eutropio Migrino (“MIGRINO”), Roman Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan (“CRUZ, JR.”), Republic of the
4 That the PCGG is entrusted with this function has been settled in various decisions of the Court, and more recently in the case of Jesus T. Tanchanco v. The Honorable Sandiganbayan, G.R. Nos. 141675-96, (November 25, 2005): “xxx the PCGG was granted quasi-judicial functions encompassing special investigatory and prosecutorial powers, among them, the power to grant immunity.”
Philippines v. Major General Josephus Q. Ramas (“REPUBLIC”), on the other—on which cases this Honorable Court adverted to in construing its constricting definition of “ill-gotten wealth.” By the simple expedient of restoring the portions of the same paragraph that this Honorable Court opted to omit, and by underscoring the final sentence, the excerpted portion of Bataan Shipyard & Engineering Co., Inc. v. Presidential Commission on Good Government can then be said to be properly contextualized, as follows:
a. Sequestration By the clear terms of the law, the power of the PCGG to sequester property claimed to be “illgotten” means to place or cause to be placed under its possession or control said property, or any building or office wherein any such property and any records pertaining thereto may be found, including “business enterprises and entities,”—for the purpose of preventing the destruction, concealment or dissipation of, and otherwise conserving and preserving, the same—until it can be determined, through appropriate judicial proceedings, whether the property was in truth “illgotten,” i.e., acquired through or as a result of improper or illegal use of or the conversion of funds belonging to the Government or any of its branches, instrumentalities, enterprises, banks or financial institutions, or by taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence, resulting in unjust enrichment of the ostensible owner and grave damage and prejudice to the State.44 And this, too, is the sense in which the term is commonly understood in other jurisdictions.45 [Emphasis mine.]
A plain reading of the restored (previously) omitted and emphasized portions leads to the following inescapable inferences:
(a) The Court meant to define the adjective “ill-gotten,” and not the term “ill-gotten wealth.” In fact, the adjective “ill-gotten” was meant to describe “property”—and nowhere in the paragraph does the word “wealth” appear. (b) The Court’s so-called “definition” of “ill-gotten” (and not “illgotten wealth”) was propounded in the context of sequestration, and not as a definition of or in order to define “ill-gotten wealth,” as can be clearly seen from the fact that the afore-quoted excerpt is under the sub-topic “a. Sequestration,” and from a reading of the following underscored and emphasized ever-important footnotes: (i) Footnote No. 44: Except for the statement as to the duration of the writ of sequestration, this is substantially the definition of sequestration set out in Section 1(B) of the Rules and Regulations of the PCGG (Rollo, pp. 195-196). The term is used in the Revised Anti-Subversion Law, (P.D. No. 885, to mean “the seizure of private property or assets in the hands of any person or entity in order to prevent the utilization, transfer or conveyance of the same for purposes inimical to national security, or when necessary to protect the interest of the Government or any of its instrumentalities. It shall include the taking over and assumption of the management, control and operation of the private property or assets seized” (reiterated in P.D. No. 1835, the Anti-Subversion Law of 1981, repealed by P.D. No. 1975 prom. On May 2, 1985) (See Phil. Law Dictionary, Moreno, 1982 ed., pp. 568-569). (ii) Footnote No. 45: “As employed under the statutory and code provisions of some states, the writ of sequestration is merely, but essentially, a conservatory measure, somewhat in the nature of a judicial deposit. It is a process which may be employed as a conservatory writ whenever the right of the property is involved, to preserve, pending litigation, specific property subject to conflicting claims of ownership or liens and privileges * *” 79 C.J.S., 1047. “In Louisiana. A mandate of the court, ordering the sheriff, in certain cases, to take in his possession, and to keep, a thing of
which another person has the possession, until after the decision of a suit, in order that it be delivered to him who shall be adjudged entitled to have the property or possession of that thing. * *.” Bouvier’s Law Dictionary, 3rd Rev., Vol. 2, p. 3046. “Sequester” means, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, “to deposit a thing which is the subject of a controversy in the hands of a third person, to hold for the contending parties; to take a thing which the subject of a controversy out of the possession of the contending parties, and deposit it in the hands of a third person.” [Emphasis mine.] (c) If the Court wanted to define “ill-gotten wealth,” it could have simply back tracked, a few paragraphs prior, considering that the term “Sequestration” was denominated as “B” and “Ill-gotten wealth” was indicated as “A” in the Rules of the PCGG—the existence of which Rules, one could safely assume that the Court then was well-aware of, having alluded to the same in Footnote No. 44. This Honorable Court’s characterization of Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Lucio C. Tan, as a reiteration o “[t]he BASECO definition of ill-gotten wealth”; thus, requires ample clarification. First, as in BASECO, the Court in TAN, referred to the so-called “definition,” again, only in relation to “sequestration.” Second, based on the portions of TAN excerpted by this Honorable Court in its Decision, inasmuch as it was deemed “relevant to define ‘ill-gotten wealth,’” the Court in TAN characterized the so-called definition as a “description”—and not a definition. As such, it disclaimed in the following wise:
On this point, we find it relevant to define “ill-gotten wealth.” In Bataan Shipyard and Engineering Co., Inc., this Court described “ill-gotten wealth” as follows xxx [Emphasis mine.]
Finally, context is just as important in understanding the proper and real doctrinal value of the so-called “identical definition” of ill-gotten wealth that this Honorable Court referenced in CHAVEZ. In CHAVEZ, the Court’s discussion of “The Nature of the Marcoses’ Alleged Ill-Gotten Wealth” was made in the context of the subject of “matters of public concern and imbued with public interest.” The paragraph following that which this Honorable Court excerpted (but conveniently omitted to the Decision’s unfortunate inconvenience), offers the following illuminating exposition as to the purpose of its inquiry—and not an announcement of its aim to proclaim a definition of “ill-gotten wealth”:
We believe that the foregoing disquisition settles the question of whether the petitioner has a right to respondents’ disclosure of any agreement that may be arrived at concerning the Marcoses’ purported illgotten wealth.
As this Honorable Court wrestled to grapple with what it found to be the “difficulty” that is inherent in the process of identifying “other persons who might be the close associates of former President Marcos,” it referred to the cases of MIGRINO, CRUZ, JR., and RAMAS—albeit needlessly and without legal justification, again, since the condition sina qua non for such excursion in statutory construction was not met and, thus, unnecessary. In doing so, this Honorable Court announced the following erroneous inference, “[a]gain, through [the previously enumerated rulings], the Court became the arbiter to determine who were the close associates within the coverage of E.O. No. 1.”
With all due respect to this Honorable Court, it is humbly submitted that a fuller and comprehensive reading of the foregoing trio of cases reveals the impropriety of deriving such a conclusion. Thus, the following survey: (a) A reading of the case of MIGRINO reveals that “[t]he most important question [it] resolved xxx [was] whether or not private respondent may be investigated and caused to be prosecuted by the Board, an agency of the PCGG, for violation of Rep. Acts Nos. 3019 and 1379.” (b) In the case of CRUZ, JR. the Court found that “[w]hat the petitioner is actually charged with is for a violation of Republic Act No. 3019. xxx” (c) Finally, in the case of RAMAS, the Court, referring to the two other cases of CRUZ, JR. and MIGRINO said that:
This case involves a revisiting of an old issue already decided by this Court in Cruz, Jr. v. Sandiganbayan and Republic v. Migrino. The primary issue for resolution is whether the PCGG has the jurisdiction to investigate and cause the filing of a forfeiture petition against Ramas and Dimaano for unexplained wealth under RA No. 1379.
As the foregoing survey clearly shows, quite contrary to this Honorable Court’s conclusion that “the Court became the arbiter to determine who were the close associates within the coverage of E.O. No. 1,” the trio of cases all involved as an issue—NOT the determination of who the close associates were within the coverage of E.O. No. 1, but instead, the jurisdiction of the PCGG to investigate cases involving public officials
and employees for violations of either R.A. No. 3019 or R.A. No. 1379. (The Court’s answer to the “old issue” being—quite logically and plainly, that the PCGG has no such jurisdiction.) Unfortunately, in the process of furthering its construction of the concept of “ill-gotten wealth,” the Court once again relied upon BASECO to derive the “[unavoidable requirement of] competent evidentiary substantiation made in appropriate judicial proceedings to determine: (a) whether the assets or properties involved had come from the vast resources of government, and (b) whether the individuals owning or holding such assets or properties were close associates of President Marcos. The requirement of competent evidentiary substantiation made in appropriate proceedings was imposed because the factual premises for the reconveyance of the assets or properties in favor of the government due to their being ill-gotten wealth could not be simply assumed.” At this juncture, reference to the pertinent portions of BASECO must be made:
6. Government’s Right and Duty to Recover All Ill-gotten Wealth There can be no debate about the validity and eminent propriety of the Government’s plan “to recover all ill-gotten wealth.” Neither can there be any debate about the proposition that assuming the above described factual premises of the Executive Orders and Proclamation No. 3 to be true, to be demonstrable by competent evidence, the recovery from Marcos, his family and his minions of the assets and properties involved, is not only a right but a duty on the part of Government.
But however plain and valid that right and duty may be, still a balance must be sought with the equally compelling necessity that a proper respect be accorded and adequate protection assured, the fundamental rights of private property and free enterprise which are deemed pillars of a free society such as ours, and to which all members of that society may without exception lay claim. xxx Democracy, as a way of life enshrined in the Constitution, embraces as its necessary components freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, and freedom in the pursuit of happiness. Along with these freedoms are included economic freedom and freedom of enterprise within reasonable bounds and under proper control. xxx Evincing much concern for the protection of property, the Constitution distinctly recognizes the preferred position which real estate has occupied in law for ages. Property is bound up with every aspect of social life in a democracy as democracy is conceived in the Constitution. The Constitution realizes the indispensable role which property, owned in reasonable quantities and used legitimately, plays in the stimulation to economic effort and the formation and growth of a solid social middle class that is said to be the bulwark of democracy and the backbone of every progressive and happy country. a. Need of Evidentiary Substantiation in Proper Suit Consequently, the factual premises of the Executive Orders cannot simply be assumed. They will have to be duly established by adequate proof in each case, in a proper judicial proceeding, so that the recovery of the ill-gotten wealth may be validly and properly adjudged and consummated; although there are some who maintain that the fact — that an immense fortune, and “vast resources of the government have been amassed by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, and close associates both here and abroad,” and they have resorted to all sorts of clever schemes and manipulations to disguise and hide their illicit acquisitions — is within the realm of judicial notice, being of so extensive notoriety as to dispense with proof thereof. Be this as it may, the requirement of evidentiary substantiation has been expressly acknowledged, and the procedure to be followed explicitly laid down, in Executive Order No. 14. [Underscoring mine.]
Indeed, as this Honorable Court emphasized in bold face, BASECO enunciates that the Republic’s right and duty “to recover all ill-gotten wealth” must be balanced with the respect for fundamental rights. In this regard, the
Court in BASECO, referred to Executive Order No. 14 in “the requirement of evidentiary substantiation” as having been “expressly acknowledged” and as “explicitly [laying] down [the procedure to be followed].” Before referring to Executive Order No. 14—that which BASECO declaims as the source for the “acknowledgment” of the “requirement of evidentiary substantiation” as well as “explicitly laying down” the “procedure” [to be followed]—the following pertinent observations must be registered. (a) First, the above-excerpted portion of BASECO refers to “the right and duty to recover ill-gotten wealth,” this much can be seen from the plain reading of the title of the section’s discussion: “6. Government’s Right and Duty to Recover All Ill-gotten Wealth” and the above underscored portion that reads “so that the recovery of the ill-gotten wealth may be validly and properly adjudged and consummated.” (b) The two issues that this Honorable Court in its Decision of April 12, 2011 requires “competent evidentiary substantiation made in appropriate judicial proceedings” are matters relevant to the CHARACTERIZATION of any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession—or anything, for that matter—AS “ill-gotten wealth.” As the foregoing reading of BASECO reveals—and what BASECO refers to is the right and duty, that is, the ACT OF RECOVERING ill-gotten wealth. Contrary to what this Honorable Court alludes to as its basis for requiring the foregoing, the “factual premises” that BASECO refers to as that which cannot be assumed are NOT “the factual premises for the reconveyance of the assets or
properties in favor of the government due to their being ill-gotten wealth” [Emphasis mine] that this Honorable Court states, rather, as BASECO plainly writes: the factual premises of the Executive Orders—that is, the factual premises of Executive Orders and Proclamation No. 3. BASECO clearly spells out and identifies these premises, in the exhaustive discussion preceding that which this Honorable Court quoted:
4. The Governing Law a. Proclamation No. 3 The impugned executive orders are avowedly meant to carry out the explicit command of the Provisional Constitution, ordained by Proclamation No. 3,23 that the President-in the exercise of legislative power which she was authorized to continue to wield "(until a legislature is elected and convened under a new Constitution" — "shall give priority to measures to achieve the mandate of the people," among others to (r)ecover ill-gotten properties amassed by the leaders and supporters of the previous regime and protect the interest of the people through orders of sequestration or freezing of assets or accounts." 24 b. Executive Order No. 1 Executive Order No. 1 stresses the "urgent need to recover all ill-gotten wealth," and postulates that "vast resources of the government have been amassed by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, and close associates both here and abroad." 25 Upon these premises, the Presidential Commission on Good Government was created, 26 "charged with the task of assisting the President in regard to (certain specified) matters," among which was precisely* * The recovery of all in-gotten wealth accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, including the takeover or sequestration of all business enterprises and entities owned or controlled by them, during his administration, directly or through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, connections or relationship. 27 In relation to the takeover or sequestration that it was authorized to undertake in the fulfillment of its mission, the
PCGG was granted "power and authority" to do the following particular acts, to wit: 1. To sequester or place or cause to be placed under its control or possession any building or office wherein any ill-gotten wealth or properties may be found, and any records pertaining thereto, in order to prevent their destruction, concealment or disappearance which would frustrate or hamper the investigation or otherwise prevent the Commission from accomplishing its task. 2. To provisionally take over in the public interest or to prevent the disposal or dissipation, business enterprises and properties taken over by the government of the Marcos Administration or by entities or persons close to former President Marcos, until the transactions leading to such acquisition by the latter can be disposed of by the appropriate authorities. 3. To enjoin or restrain any actual or threatened commission of acts by any person or entity that may render moot and academic, or frustrate or otherwise make ineffectual the efforts of the Commission to carry out its task under this order. 28 So that it might ascertain the facts germane to its objectives, it was granted power to conduct investigations; require submission of evidence by subpoenae ad testificandum and duces tecum; administer oaths; punish for contempt. 29 It was given power also to promulgate such rules and regulations as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of * * (its creation).
c. Executive Order No. 2 Executive Order No. 2 gives additional and more specific data and directions respecting "the recovery of ill-gotten properties amassed by the leaders and supporters of the previous regime." It declares that: 1) * * the Government of the Philippines is in possession of evidence showing that there are assets and properties purportedly pertaining to former Ferdinand E. Marcos, and/or his wife Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, their close relatives, subordinates, business associates, dummies, agents or nominees which had been or were acquired by them directly or indirectly, through or as a result of the improper or illegal use of funds or properties owned by the government of the Philippines or any of its branches, instrumentalities, enterprises, banks or financial institutions, or by taking undue advantage of their office, authority, influence, connections or relationship, resulting in their unjust enrichment and causing grave damage and
prejudice to the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines:" and 2) * * said assets and properties are in the form of bank accounts, deposits, trust accounts, shares of stocks, buildings, shopping centers, condominiums, mansions, residences, estates, and other kinds of real and personal properties in the Philippines and in various countries of the world." 31 Upon these premises, the President1) froze "all assets and properties in the Philippines in which former President Marcos and/or his wife, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, their close relatives, subordinates, business associates, dummies, agents, or nominees have any interest or participation; 2) prohibited former President Ferdinand Marcos and/or his wife * *, their close relatives, subordinates, business associates, duties, agents, or nominees from transferring, conveying, encumbering, concealing or dissipating said assets or properties in the Philippines and abroad, pending the outcome of appropriate proceedings in the Philippines to determine whether any such assets or properties were acquired by them through or as a result of improper or illegal use of or the conversion of funds belonging to the Government of the Philippines or any of its branches, instrumentalities, enterprises, banks or financial institutions, or by taking undue advantage of their official position, authority, relationship, connection or influence to unjustly enrich themselves at the expense and to the grave damage and prejudice of the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines; 3) prohibited "any person from transferring, conveying, encumbering or otherwise depleting or concealing such assets and properties or from assisting or taking part in their transfer, encumbrance, concealment or dissipation under pain of such penalties as are prescribed by law;" and 4) required "all persons in the Philippines holding such assets or properties, whether located in the Philippines or abroad, in their names as nominees, agents or trustees, to make full disclosure of the same to the Commission on Good Government within thirty (30) days from publication of * (the) Executive Order, * *. 32 d. Executive Order No. 14 A third executive order is relevant: Executive Order No. 14, 33 by which the PCGG is empowered, "with the assistance of the Office of the Solicitor General and other government agencies, * * to file and prosecute all cases investigated by it * * as may be
warranted by its findings." 34 All such cases, whether civil or criminal, are to be filed "with the Sandiganbayan which shall have exclusive and original jurisdiction thereof." 35 Executive Order No. 14 also pertinently provides that civil suits for restitution, reparation of damages, or indemnification for consequential damages, forfeiture proceedings provided for under Republic Act No. 1379, or any other civil actions under the Civil Code or other existing laws, in connection with * * (said Executive Orders Numbered 1 and 2) may be filed separately from and proceed independently of any criminal proceedings and may be proved by a preponderance of evidence;" and that, moreover, the "technical rules of procedure and evidence shall not be strictly applied to* * (said)civil cases." 36 5. Contemplated Situations The situations envisaged and sought to be governed are selfevident, these being: 1) that "(i)ll-gotten properties (were) amassed by the leaders and supporters of the previous regime"; 37 a) more particularly, that ill-gotten wealth (was) accumulated by former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, * * located in the Philippines or abroad, * * (and) business enterprises and entities (came to be) owned or controlled by them, during * * (the Marcos) administration, directly or through nominees, by taking undue advantage of their public office and/or using their powers, authority, influence, Connections or relationship; 38 b) otherwise stated, that "there are assets and properties purportedly pertaining to former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, and/or his wife Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, their close relatives, subordinates, business associates, dummies, agents or nominees which had been or were acquired by them directly or indirectly, through or as a result of the improper or illegal use of funds or properties owned by the Government of the Philippines or any of its branches, instrumentalities, enterprises, banks or financial institutions, or by taking undue advantage of their office, authority, influence, connections or relationship, resulting in their unjust enrichment and causing grave damage and prejudice to the Filipino people and the Republic of the Philippines"; 39 c) that "said assets and properties are in the form of bank accounts. deposits, trust. accounts, shares of stocks, buildings, shopping centers, condominiums, mansions, residences, estates, and other kinds of real and personal properties in the Philippines and in various countries of the world;" 40 and 2) that certain "business enterprises and properties (were) taken over by the government of the Marcos Administration or by entities or persons close to former President Marcos. 41 [Emphasis mine.]
(c) A careful reading of the foregoing discussion reveals that when the Court referred to the “factual premises of the Executive Orders and Proclamation No. 3,” it referred to the political questions pertaining to the Republic’s mandate, right and duty to recover ill-gotten wealth— and NOT to the two factual issues that in its Decision this Court would now seek the PCGG to answer. In fact, in the foregoing discussion on the “factual premises” for Executive Order No. 2, the Court refers to evidence that is in the possession of the Government of the Philippines. The unmistakable inference is that these “factual premises” refer to the facts, events, and circumstances that led to the issuance of the Executive Orders and Proclamation No. 3, as an adjunct and in fulfillment of the Republic’s right and duty to recover all ill-gotten wealth. (d) As BASECO adverts to, it is Executive Order No. 14 that acknowledges the requirement for “evidentiary substantiation” and as explicitly laying down the requisite “procedure.” An exhaustive reading of Executive Order No. 14, as amended, reveals that the “acknowledgment” of the need for “evidentiary substantiation,” as well as the “procedure” to be followed in fulfilling the Republic’s duty and right to recover ill-gotten wealth is to be found in Sec. 3, insofar as it sets down the quantum of evidence required in proving the cases it contemplates:
SECTION 3. The civil suits to recover unlawfully acquired property under Republic Act No. 1379 or for restitution, reparation of damages, or indemnification for consequential and other damages or any other civil
actions under the Civil Code or other existing laws filed with the Sandiganbayan against Ferdinand E. Marcos, Imelda R. Marcos, members of their immediate family, close relatives, subordinates, close and/or business associates, dummies, agents and nominees, may proceed independently of any criminal proceedings and may be proved by a preponderance of evidence.
In light of the foregoing discussions, it is abundantly clear that this Honorable Court’s definition, having been deduced from the wrong premise and without proper and legally sound basis, is erroneous, should be set aside, and should not be made the basis for defining, controlling, resolving, and settling the issues and matters in this case. Thus, the following implications are worth enumerating: (a) Firstly, this Honorable Court’s Decision to the effect of demanding “two concurring elements to be present before assets or properties can be considered as ill-gotten wealth, namely that: (a) they must have “originated from the government itself” and (b) they must have been taken by former President Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, and close associates by illegal means” is an improper and waylaid construction of the definition of “ill-gotten wealth,” as clearly defined by the Rules of the PCGG. (b) Secondly, this Honorable Court’s Decision needlessly and unfairly restricts, and severely constricts and constrains the definition of “ill-gotten wealth,” especially with regard to: (i) the persons and ways by which such persons may “illegally acquire” (ii) the ways by which “wealth” may be made acquired and (iii) the means or similar schemes by which “wealth” may
become “ill-gotten,” considering that the Rules of the PCGG, Sec. 1 clearly identifies “ill-gotten wealth” to be, once again:
any asset, property, business enterprise or material possession of persons within the purview of Executive Orders Nos. 1 and 2, acquired by them directly, or indirectly thru dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates by any of the following means or similar schemes: (1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury; (2) Through the receipt, indirectly, of any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in the connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the official concerned. (3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the government or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities or government-owned or controlled corporations; (4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stocks, equity, or any other form of interest or participation in any business enterprise or undertaking; (5) Through the establishment of agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combination and/or by the issuance, promulgation and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; and (6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship or influence for personal gain or benefit. [Emphasis mine.]
(c) Thirdly, plainly put, the legal definition of “ill-gotten wealth,” contemplates the following: i. With regard to the ways by which “ill-gotten wealth” may be acquired, either:
a. Directly: By the persons within the purview of Executive Orders Nos. 1 and 2, i.e. “Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, his immediate family, relatives, subordinates and close associates, whether located in the Philippines or abroad” (E.O. No. 1) or “Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, and/or his wife, Mrs. Imelda Romualdez Marcos, their close relatives, subordinates, business associates, dummies, agents or nominees” (E.O. No. 2); b. Indirectly: Through dummies, nominees, agents, subordinates and/or business associates; ii. With regard to the ways by which “wealth” may become “illgotten,” by any of the following means or similar schemes:
(1) Through misappropriation, conversion, misuse or malversation of public funds or raids on the public treasury; (2) Through the receipt, indirectly, of any commission, gift, share, percentage, kickbacks or any other form of pecuniary benefit from any person and/or entity in the connection with any government contract or project or by reason of the office or position of the official concerned. (3) By the illegal or fraudulent conveyance or disposition of assets belonging to the government or any of its subdivisions, agencies, or instrumentalities or government-owned or controlled corporations; (4) By obtaining, receiving or accepting directly or indirectly any shares of stocks, equity, or any other form of interest or participation in any business enterprise or undertaking; (5) Through the establishment of agricultural, industrial or commercial monopolies or other combination and/or by the issuance, promulgation and/or implementation of decrees and orders intended to benefit particular persons or special interests; and (6) By taking undue advantage of official position, authority, relationship or influence for personal gain or benefit.
(d) Fourthly, the “unavoidable” requirement of providing “competent evidentiary substantiation made in appropriate judicial
proceedings” to determine: (a) whether the assets or properties involved had come from the vast resources of government, and (b) whether the individuals owning or holding such assets or properties were close associates of President Marcos is based on the wrong premise. It is NOT “required,” as in fact, Sec. 7 of the Rules of the PCGG empowers the PCGG to “ascertain whether any particular asset, property or enterprise constitutes ill-gotten wealth”— with the conduct of a hearing, to be made and had at its option. Further, the “issues” defined by this Honorable Court do not neatly coincide or accurately reflect the definition of “ill-gotten wealth” under the Rules of the PCGG. (e) Finally, as the same principle applies—that is, according to Sec. 8 of the Rules of the PCGG, that the Commission, in the exercise of its powers to investigate or hear cases within its jurisdiction shall act according to the requirements of due process and fairness, and shall not be strictly bound by the technical rules of evidence—it bears underscoring that, as found by the Court in Republic of the Philippines v. The Honorable Sandiganbayan, G.R. 84895, May 4, 1989:
It is to be reiterated that paragraph 2 of Section 3, of Executive Order No. 14 reads: xxx xxx xxx The technical rules of procedure and evidence shag not be strictly applied to the civil cases filed hereunder.
19. Consistent with the principles of administrative law and the nature of the PCGG as an administrative body with quasi-judicial functions, its
findings of fact in ascertaining “ill-gotten wealth” must given due respect and accorded great weight—as in the case of PCGG’s determination of the fact that Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. is one of the closest and most powerful cronies of the late dictator, a historical fact and matter of general knowledge known to everyone. In the fulfillment of its duty and right to recover all ill-gotten wealth, through the PCGG, the Republic’s efforts must not be hampered or constrained—as the law clearly states, by technical rules of evidence and procedure—or overly strict and constricting requirements that have no basis in law or jurisprudence.
II. Assuming arguendo that there was “gross negligence” on the part of some of the Republic’s counsels, the Decision of April 12, 2011 would unjustly and unfairly deprive the Republic of due process and a real opportunity to be heard. x----------------------------------x In its Decision of April 12, 2011, this Honorable Court made much ado about the apparent shortcomings of the Republic’s lawyer, Atty. Dennis M. Taningco, during the pre-trial on May 24, 2000. Referring to the Sandiganbayan’s observations, this Honorable Court offered the following discussion:
The pre-trial was actually held on May 24, 2000, during which the Sandiganbayan sought clarification from the parties, particularly the Republic, on their respective positions, but at the end, it found the clarifications “inadequately” enlightening. Nonetheless, the
Sandiganbayan, not disposed to reset, terminated the pre-trial:
xxx primarily because the Court is given a very clear impression that the plaintiff does not know what documents will be or whether they are even available to prove the causes of action in the complaint. The Court has pursued and exerted every form of inquiry to see if there is a way by which the plaintiff could explain in any significant particularity the acts and the evidence which will support its claim of wrong-doing by the defendants. The plaintiff has failed to do so.
The following material portions of the pre-trial order are quoted to provide a proper perspective of what transpired during the pre-trial, to wit:
Upon oral inquiry from the Court, the issues which were being raised by plaintiff appear to have been made on a very generis character. Considering that any claim for violation or breach of trust or deception cannot be made on generic statements but rather by specific acts which would demonstrate fraud or breach of trust or deception, together with the evidence in support thereof, the same was not acceptable to the Court. The plaintiff through its designated counsel for this morning, Atty. Dennis Taningco, has represented to this Court that the annexes to its pre-trial brief, more particularly the findings of the COA in its various examinations, copies of which COA reports are attached to the pre-trial brief, would demonstrate the wrong, the act or omission attributed to the defendants or to several of them and the basis, therefore, for the relief that plaintiff seeks in its complaint. It would appear, however, that the plaintiff through its counsel at this time is not prepared to go into the specifics of the identification of these wrongs or omissions attributed to plaintiff. The Court has reminded the plaintiff that a COA report proves itself only in proceedings where the issue arises from a review of the accountability of particular officers and, therefore, to show the existence of shortages or deficiencies in an examination conducted for that purpose, provided that such a report is accompanied by its own working papers and other supporting documents. In civil cases such as this, a COA report would not have the same independent probative value since it is not a review of the accountability of public officers for public property in their custody as accountable officers. It has been the stated view of this Court that a COA report, to be of significant evidence, may itself stand only on the basis of the supporting documents that upon which it is based and upon an analysis made by those who are competent to do so. The Court, therefore, sought a more specific statement from plaintiff as to what these documents were and which of them would prove a particular act or omission or a series of acts or omissions purportedly committed by any, by several or by all of the defendants in any particular stage of the chain of alleged wrong-doing in this case. The plaintiff was not in a position to do so.
The Court has remonstrated with the plaintiff, insofar as its inadequacy is concerned, primarily because this case was set for pre-trial as far back as December and has been reset from its original setting, with the undertaking by the plaintiff to prepare itself for these proceedings. It appears to this Court at this time that the failure of the plaintiff to have available responses and specific data and documents at this stage is not because the matter has been the product of oversight or notes and papers left elsewhere; rather, the agitation of this Court arises from the fact that at this very stage, the plaintiff through its counsel does not know what these documents are, where these documents will be and is still anticipating a submission or a delivery thereof by COA at an undetermined time. The justification made by counsel for this stance is that this is only pre-trial and this information and the documents are not needed yet. The Court is not prepared to postpone the pre-trial anew primarily because the Court is given a very clear impression that the plaintiff does not know what documents will be or whether they are even available to prove the causes of action in the complaint. The Court has pursued and has exerted every form of inquiry to see if there is a way by which the plaintiff could explain in any significant particularity the acts and the evidence which will support its claim of wrong-doing by the defendants. The plaintiff has failed to do so. Defendants Cojuangco have come back and reiterated their previous inquiry as to the statement of the cause of action and the description thereof. While the Court acknowledges that logically, that statement along that line would be primary, the Court also recognizes that sometimes the phrasing of the issue may be determined or may arise after a statement of the evidence is determined by this Court because the Court can put itself in a position of more clearly and perhaps more accurately stating what the issues are. The Pre-Trial Order, after all, is not so much a reflection of merely separate submissions by all of the parties involved, witnesses by the Court, as to what the subject matter of litigation will be, including the determination of what matters of fact remain unresolved. At this time, the plaintiff has not taken the position on any factual statement or any piece of evidence which can be subject of admission or denial, nor any specifics of any act which could be disputed by the defendants; what plaintiff through counsel has stated are general conclusions, general statements of abuse and misuse and opportunism. After an extended break requested by some of the parties, the sessions were resumed and nothing anew arose from the plaintiff. The plaintiff sought fifteen (15) days to file a reply to the comments and observations made by defendant Cojuangco to the pre-trial brief of the plaintiff. This Court denied this Request since the submissions in preparation for pre-trial are not litigious or contentious matters. They are mere assertions or positions which may or may not be meritorious depending upon the view of the Court of the entire case and if useful at the pre-trial. At this stage, the plaintiff then reiterated its earlier request to consider the pretrial terminated. The Court sought the positions of the other parties, whether or not they too were prepared to submit their respective positions on the basis of what was before the Court at pre-trial. All of the parties, in the end, have come to an agreement that they were submitting their own respective positions for purpose of pre-trial on the basis of the submissions made of record.
With all of the above, the pre-trial is now deemed terminated. This Order has been overly extended simply because there has been a need to put on record all of the events that have taken place leading to the conclusions which were drawn herein. The parties have indicated a desire to make their submissions outside of trial as a consequence of this terminated pre-trial, with the plea that the transcript of the proceedings this morning be made available to them, so that they may have the basis for whatever assertions they will have to make either before this Court or elsewhere. The Court deems the same reasonable and the Court now gives the parties fifteen (15) days after notice to them that the transcript of stenographic notes of the proceedings herein are complete and ready for them to be retrieved. Settings for trial or for any other proceeding hereafter will be fixed by this Court either upon request of the parties or when the Court itself shall have determined that nothing else has to be done. The Court has sought confirmation from the parties present as to the accuracy of the recapitulation herein of the proceedings this morning and the Court has gotten assent from all of the parties. xxx SO ORDERED.
Despite this Honorable Court’s generous reference to the pre-trial order to “provide a proper perspective” on the inadequacy of the Republic’s “‘inadequately’ enlightening” positions during the pre-trial, it is actually (the excerpts from) the transcripts (of the pre-trial hearing of May 24, 2000) that would serve as a clearer backdrop to what transpired that day. Soon after the appearances, when the late Presiding Justice Francis E. Garchitorena started asking Atty. Taningco about specifics, the day’s session took a turn for the worse: ATTY. TANINGCO: There are specific allegations to that effect in the subdivided complaint, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Where is it?
ATTY. TANINGCO: I don’t have a copy of that, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Why don’t you have a copy of that? We are at pre-trial, what do you think we’re going to do here, brush our teeth? Look at your records now, Mr. Taningco. ATTY. TANINGCO: I have here the Pre-Trial Brief. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Bring it out, whatever it is. ATTY. TANINGCO: But it is not indicated in the Pre-Trial Brief, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: So, where is it indicated? ATTY. TANINGCO: It is indicated in the subdivided complaint, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Look at the subdivided complaint now. ATTY. TANINGCO: If I may be allowed to — PRESIDING JUSTICE: You come to Court, Mr. Taningco, and not know where your Complaint is, for heaven’s sake. How come you have Pre-Trial Brief and not have your Complaint? ATTY. TANINGCO:
We overlooked that, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Look for it now. ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor. xxx ATTY. TANINGCO: Under paragraph 14 at the last portion, page 17 of the subdivided complaint, Enrile and ACCRA 1.8% of the San Miguel Corporation shares of stock and then another 1.8% in the name of JAKA Investment Corporation, that’s the one we are referring to, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Enrile-1.8, how much is that? ATTY. TANINGCO: 1.8% of the San Miguel Corporation, Your Honor. That would be roughly millions of pesos also. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Roughly millions of pesos is meaningless, counsel. You’ve got to be a little bit more specific. How many shares of stock? Mr. Taningco, this is now particulars; this is now pre-trial. No more generalities here, Mr. Taningco. ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor. If San Miguel Corporation would have a capital stock of — PRESIDING JUSTICE:
Mr. Taningco, I know what 1.8% means. I want specifics, how many shares or how much par value? ATTY. TANINGCO: We do not have a record here to that effect, Your Honor PRESIDING JUSTICE: Son of a gun. ATTY. TANINGCO: But it can be computed mathematically insofar as the percentage is concerned. PRESIDING JUSTICE: If you do not even know, how can you compute mathematically, Mr. Taningco. Never mind. xxx. The late Justice Garchitorena, then, proceeded to press Atty. Taningco for more specifics, concerning the Republic’s causes of actions, as well as its supporting exhibits. At which point, the following exchange took place: ATTY. TANINGCO: Your Honor, there are several resolutions. PRESIDING JUSTICE: State them. What are they? Allowing private individuals to own SMC shares. What resolutions are they? ATTY. TANINGCO: We do not have it here right now, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Son of a gun! This is your allegation of fraud because your basic statement in your Complaint is breach of trust by Cojuangco. Cojuangco put himself according to you in such a special
position because of his crony relationship with Marcos so that he could do certain things. Now, in your complaint, you say Cojuangco as President of the UCPB, as PCA Officer and the like was able to maneuver things so that with the use of UCPB funds he could use all of the other instruments meaning the CIIF companies to acquire San Miguel shares and then through a voting trust agreement become the leading mover in San Miguel Corporation and thereby do whatever wrong things he did. So we’ll divide, if you wish, your claim for misbehavior of Cojuangco in two parts, the mechanics and then what he actually—the wrong things that he did. So, where is now the resolution with regard to individuals owning San Miguel shares? ATTY. TANINGCO: Well, we merely referred to it from the COA Report. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Tell us now, where? ATTY. TANINGCO: And we are gathering those records— PRESIDING JUSTICE: Not gathering. This is pre-trial. We can close the case this morning depending upon what you can show us. What do you think we are going to do this morning, Mr. Taningco? This is pre-trial; we can close this case on the basis of admissions and denials this morning, at this point of pre-trial, so that we can identify only the factual issues where you will present evidence. If Mr. Cojuangco admits that yes, because of his acts, 25 different people got shares of stock because it was necessary for them to sit in the UCPB Board, to sit in the San Miguel Board, to sit in the CIIF companies; there, you have an admission, so we can close that issue and then we can determine whatever evidence you have to show that Mr. Cojuangco was wrong and was violative of the trust vested upon him by his peculiar position and to the prejudice of the COCOFED, to the prejudice of the UCPB companies, whatever. What are the facts that we will nail down Cojuangco for? Give me one set of facts; don’t give me generalities about what the COA Report says. Is the COA Report proof by itself?
ATTY. TANINGCO: Not by itself. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Alright, what are the documents that are supporting the COA Report? Do you have an enumeration of the documents that support the COA Report? ATTY. TANINGCO: The resolutions, Your Honor, and the – PRESIDING JUSTICE: This is recitation, Mr. Taningco, and this is enumeration; you should have records of that; under the COA Report, the following documents prove that Cojuangco did this; under the COA Report, the following acts of Cojuangco are demonstrated by whatever it is as a result of which he did that. What do we have here? Everybody has been accusing the Government of having generalities in its statement of claims against Ponce Enrile, against Cojuangco and against everybody else. What do you have now? ATTY. TANINGCO: The COA Report and— PRESIDING JUSTICE: Okay, where in the COA Report? Do you know the COA Report? Do you have an outline of the COA Report? ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor, in this COA Reprot there are findings there that coco levy funds – PRESIDING JUSTICE: What are these findings, specifically? Look at them now and enumerate them; recite them to the Court because it will
constitute part of the Pre-Trial Order. That is going to be the Pre-Trial Order. ATTY. TANINGCO: Your Honor, to be candid about it, those specifics, we intend to do that during the presentation of our evidence. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Mr. Taningco, this is the period for specifics because we will identify now the things that Cojuangco will admit, the things that Mr. Ubano will admit for COCOFED, the things that Ms. Herbosa will admit for Ursua, the things that Mr. Marcelo will admit for Ponce Enrile; this is it, today is the day, the time is now. Show us your stuff. What have you got? This is pre-trial; show the world. How can we define the issues and how can we define the unresolved statement of facts if you do not know where they are? ATTY. TANINGCO: Well, to be honest, we are still gathering those pertinent documents, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Son of a gun! ATTY. TANINGCO: We are aware of the existence of those documents and we are gathering those documents, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: At this stage? ATTY. TANINGCO: And we will be ready at the time of the trial. PRESIDING JUSTICE:
That’s going to be too late because we can close this case and declare you guys unready for the case because you have no evidence at pre-trial. What do you think we’re doing here? ATTY. TANINGCO: We have presented already, Your Honor, our proffer of exhibits consisting of— PRESIDING JUSTICE: Okay, do you want your entire case to be rested on the basis of your proffer of documents, supposing you have the documents? ATTY. TANINGCO: No, Your Honor, because we have made reservation also there that we are adopting also the exhibits to be offered in the other subdivided complaint. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Bring them out now. Are you ready to bring them out now, so that we can close your case and say this is the evidence, then we can turn to Mr. Mendoza, we nailed you down now; you are supposed to be ready as we would want you to be; admit all of these documents or deny them. If you deny them, tell us why you deny them. We can nail down Mr. Mendoza on this. He has been making noises about you guys not being ready. The assumption is he’s taking this grand position because he knows what he is going to do next. Alright, you complete your statement and we’re going to press Mr. Mendoza to make his statements, good? Wanna roll the dice on that one? ATTY. TANINGCO: We cannot get it clearly, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Ano, tataya ka na? Itaya mo na iyan kung iyan ang gusto mong sabihim [sic] para pigain din natin si Mr. Mendoza para umamin sya kung tatanggapin nya o hindi pagkatapos isara na natin ang kaso.
ATTY. TANINGCO: Your Honor, at this point in time we cannot yet rest our case on that premise. PRESIDING JUSTICE: What do you think we’re going to do at pre-trial? ATTY. TANINGCO: Because our purpose is only to show that we have a cause of action and we will establish that during the trial, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Where did you ever get that idea? Where did the office of the Solicitor General get that idea of what the pre-trial is supposed to be? The idea of whether you have a cause of action or not is supposed to be determined at least on the surface of the pleadings at the time of the Motion to Dismiss. Tapos na yon. They have not filed a Motion to Dismiss; we will no longer entertain a Motion to Dismiss; they’ve filed an answer, so now we are no longer on the determination of whether you have a cause of action; the assumption is that you have a cause of action and we are gathered here this morning to determine what is your statement of proof for those causes of action. If you cannot, then we can close the case on you for having no cause of action or no evidence to support your accusations. ATTY. TANINGCO: We have sufficient evidence, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: What is it? Enumerate them; tell us now. In the next minutes that followed, Atty. Taningco tried—albeit, in vain—to respond to the questions of the late Presiding Justice. Exasperated, the following exchange, then, ensued: PRESIDING JUSTICE:
xxx. Where were you when this case is being prepared? Don’t laugh, this is a serious matter I mean I know you’re embarrassed, I could see you but you don’t know this case. ATTY. TANINGCO: I’m still studying the case, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Well, too late. ATTY. TANINGCO: I was made to prepare the Pre-Trial Brief only three weeks ago. PRESIDING JUSTICE: So, Mr. Taningco, if you are not ready for pre-trial, don’t come. If you come for pre-trial, my God, study for 24 hours a day and get yourself ready when you come to this Court for the pre-trial; this can be a high moment in your life to skin Cojuangco and get what you think the Government should get from him; to do that, you have to study but you cannot say it’s over and now Cojuangco should pay; it won’t work that way. If the intent of the Government is that, then that overwise Mr. Cojuangco has no obligations to you, Mr. Cojuangco is not proven to have done anything wrong and therefore we are wasting time here. Mr. Taningco, that is what it’s all about. I’ve been losing my voice and making a fool of myself since December when we set these cases for pre-trial in all of these UCPB, in all of these Cojuangco, San Miguel cases in 0033 because we wanted to make sure that you have anything. Kung meron kang ipakikita, ipakita mo na. ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Asaan? ATTY. TANINGCO:
The other documents, we are still gathering, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Okay, if you are only here three weeks ago, Mr. Nera, tell us what Mr. Taningco doesn’t know. ATTY. NERA: Well, Your Honor please, on the part of PCGG we would like to hasten the proceedings, so what we did was to divide this subdivided complaint among the several lawyers so that they can prepare for their briefs and their task regarding their— PRESIDING JUSTICE: Mr. Nera, I’m not asking you how to make a watch, I’m asking you, tell me the time; what the situation here? Why are we nailing down Cojuangco for anything? Long ago, Mr. Nera, in January, I recall or February, you came and you said you have all of these documents on top of your table and you were going to work through them. This morning you are here; Mr. Taningco says three weeks lang; you are here longer, I’m assuming that you did not give this thing to eight lawyers and then go to sleep; I’m assuming you gave this to eight lawyers and made sure that they reported to you so that you would know exactly what they have found out. What do you know, Mr. Nera? ATTY. NERA: Well, as I’ve said, Your Honor, we assigned these cases to different lawyers and we tasked these lawyers to gather the evidence and the documents needed in that particular case. As earlier said by Mr. Taningco, the documents that we need in this case is related to the documents to be gathered by the other lawyers. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Mr. Nera, that is known as passing the back [sic], hindi kop o kasalanan, sya po e. Answer the question, please. ATTY. NERA:
The other lawyers are in the process of gathering the evidence, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: In other words, you are not ready to make a statement as to the specific wrongs attributed to the defendants here. The Court is asking you now so that we can nail down exactly what the defendants are going to be held to account for. We are no longer talking about vague things; it is with the eight lawyers. Great! Bring the eight lawyers here; you should have brought the eight lawyers here. ATTY. NERA: I always bring them in every pre-trial, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: I mean, now is the pre-trial. Now is it. ATTY. NERA: Well, if Your Honor please, we have our evidence here, the COA Report and now this Honorable Court is asking for the documents which were the basis of the COA Report— PRESIDING JUSTICE: Is that wrong? ATTY. NERA: We don’t have it right now, Your Honor please. PRESIDING JUSTICE: So, why do you come to pre-trial not having the documents with you? You don’t even have a list of documents that support the COA Report. ATTY. NERA: It’s in the COA Report, Your Honor.
PRESIDING JUSTICE: Where’s your document supporting the COA Report? ATTY. NERA: We don’t have it today, Your Honor please. PRESIDING JUSTICE: What else do you not have today? I mean, Gentlemen, the COA Report is nothing, the COA Report is no better than affidavit. It’s nothing. It’s a meaningless piece of paper. Do you want to close your case on the COA Report? ATTY. NERA: No, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: In other words you yourself concede that a mere statement, that is the COA Report, is not proof of anything. ATTY. NERA: Unless we present documents which were the basis of the report, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Right now the COA Report is a fairy tale unless you can present the documents upon which the COA Report is based. ATTY. NERA: We will do it, Your Honor please. PRESIDING JUSTICE: So, you are going to do that now. Now is pre-trial, now is it; now is before trial because at trial – would you like me to read to you the purposes of pre-trial? ATTY. NERA:
No more, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Fine. So, now we are here to find out what are the things that do not have to be proven, di ba? Is that correct, Mr. Nera? You’ve been in the business longer than I am. At pre-trial, we are here to determine what things are self-proving because that’s what the law is, judicial knowledge; what things do not have to be proven because they are admitted by everybody and those which are not admitted will be proven. ATTY. NERA: Yes, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: How can we expect Cojuangco and Ponce Enrile to admit documents that you do not have? How can you expect them to admit the documents which you do not even know? How do you think we can accomplish anything at pre-trial this morning? And in January or February when we reset this case, you swore, you promised that you would be ready for pre-trial. I recall that Mr. Simon was complaining that… and then suddenly he discovered he’s going to be the counsel for all of the eight cases and you said, no, no, no, next time we will be ready; I have the papers on top of my desk. Well, now is next time. ATTY. NERA: What I was referring to at that time, Your Honor, is the… Report, a committee which investigated all of these. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Whatever it was that you’re referring to, we are talking of now. We are wondering now, Gentlemen, please forgive us. We are wondering now what is incumbent upon us at this stage of the pre-trial considering the position of the plaintiff at this time. The Court doesn’t know what to do because it’s like deciding on whether or not we’re going to ask a girl to marry you; what is she says, will you marry her? That’s a question of we don’t know what to do now because we don’t want to ask the question
because if we ask any other question, we’re afraid of the answer. Mr. Taningco, is there anything you want to say? ATTY. TANINGCO: Well, Your Honor, at this point in time we move that the pretrial be terminated and that we be allowed to present our evidence during the trial. PRESIDING JUSTICE: One what issues will you present evidence? Make that of record, please. On what facts, not issues anymore, no longer generalities, not conclusions, facts. What are the facts that you will present evidence at trial? I’m writing it down, Mr. Taningco. Everything you’ve said is tape recorded and written down by the Stenographer. ATTY. TANINGCO: On facts, No. 1) to prove the findings of the COA Report. PRESIDING JUSTICE: That’s a conclusion. What facts will you be proving insofar as the COA Report states? ATTY. TANINGCO: That there were disbursements of coco levy funds which are irregular and anomalous and were used in the purchase or acquisition of San Miguel shares to the detriment of the coconut farmers and the coconut levy funds and to the benefit or advantage of the defendants Cojuangco. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Okay, this is pre-trial, remember this is no longer just generalities; this is not talking to your clients; this is not taking to the Court [sic]. Now, to the detriment of coconut levy funds and coconut farmers, that is a conclusion. What are the facts that you will prove to show that the coconut levy funds were irregular and anomalous? What documents, what testimonies are you going to present?
ATTY. TANINGCO: We intend to present the COA Auditors, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: And what will they testify to? What specific acts, what specific documents will they testify to? ATTY. TANINGCO: They will testify on the fact that per their audit, the – PRESIDING JUSTICE: We know that. What is the basis for the statement in the audit, that’s what they will testify to? ATTY. TANINGCO: As to the basis of their findings and their audit – PRESIDING JUSTICE: It’s like saying nakita po naming, that’s hearsay. Ano? What? Where is what you saw because the conclusions of the COA are not binding upon us, so we want to know what will they say, what documents will they present to make it binding upon us. ATTY. TANINGCO: They will have to show the – PRESIDING JUSTICE: Not will have to, you know what they will show; you know what documents they will have to show. What are these documents? ATTY. TANINGCO: First, the PCA resolutions. PRESIDING JUSTICE: What specific PCA resolutions?
ATTY. TANINGCO: Authorizing – PRESIDING JUSTICE: Are they enumerated in your Pre-Trial Brief? ATTY. TANINGCO: Some are enumerated here, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Like what documents? What documents are enumerated in your Pre-Trial Brief? Wala ng bulahan dito, Mr. Taningco. Wala ng istiran dito; you are now going to give specific things. We are not being paid here to watch around and go through generalities anymore. Speak to us now in specifics because we can ask Mr. Mendoza to admit these documents. What are the documents? ATTY. TANINGCO: First document is the PCA resolution allowing the transfer or deposit of the coco levy funds to the UCPB. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Is that enumerated? Is that mentioned in your Pre-Trial Brief? ATTY. TANINGCO: There are so many documents here – PRESIDING JUSTICE: I know there’s so many. Tell me, is it mentioned and which one is it? ATTY. TANINGCO: I think it’s mentioned here. PRESIDING JUSTICE:
No, not what you think. You know this thing; you prepared this; you were hired three weeks ago and you really worked hard for it. Where is it? ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor, but I want to be sure. PRESIDING JUSTICE: You should have been sure when you came here. Will you look at Exh. “B”; that’s the only resolution that you mentioned I mean it’s the only document other than an official enactments. ATTY. TANINGCO: We have the agreement for the acquisition of a commercial bank for the benefit of the coconut farmers of the Philippines. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Alright, that is not denied. Ponce Enrile admits that there was such a document and he says yes and that was a very valid point of investment. It’s not binding yet. Mr. Marcelo, I think you are going to admit that such a document exists? ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Mr. Mendoza, just very quickly, you will admit that document? ATTY. MENDOZA: Yes, Your Honor, but I would like to state that I cannot admit anything until I am told what the cause of action is. PRESIDING JUSTICE: It’s not binding on you; just to nail them down. ATTY. MENDOZA:
Actually, if Your Honor please, if they would only state categorically what their cause of action is, I would probably be prepared to make an admission as to all of these documents. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Okay, there is a hamon. If you tell them what your causes of action are, he will admit all of your annexes. So, the Court is now the one that is tasked; it is just making sure that you got the right document. Back to you, what is our problem with Exh. “B”? Mr. Mendoza is prepared to concede the existence of that document and it’s just that if he makes an admission now it’s gonna be a waste of time unless he knows which way we’re going and Mr. Marcelo is more daring than Mr. Mendoza; he says yes, we will admit that it exists; in fact, in his pleadings he says that was for the benefit of PCA. What else? Everything else is Presidential Decrees and issuances, statement of assets and liabilities of Eduardo Cojuangco and his wife, great, but that’s not what we’re going to do because we are not here on 1379, we are here on civil code like breach of trust and I supposed necessarily consequent corporate breach of trust etc. Fine. What other acts of the PCA? ATTY. TANINGCO: Well, there are so many other acts of the PCA. PRESIDING JUSTICE: What? What are these acts? ATTY. TANINGCO: Well, at the moment, Your Honor, I cannot express it out immediately. I will have to review it again. PRESIDING JUSTICE: What do you think you are supposed to do here this morning, Mr. Taningco? ATTY. TANINGCO: Well, for the ordinary pre-trial –
PRESIDING JUSTICE: This is ordinary pre-trial. I do not know whether you’ve attended pre-trial in other courts but in this neck of the wolves, this is ordinary pre-trial. I mean we think we understand the Rules very well. In fact, there’s nothing else that we go for except the Rules, so what do you think we’re going to do this morning? Mr. Mendoza is correct; he would like to know why his client will be made to pay huge amounts of money, surrender huge amounts of property or whatever it is. What is your cause of action? Under what law or under what specific wrongs? A cause of action as I recall is a statement of acts or omissions which have caused harm to the plaintiff presumably the person from whom the plaintiff is initiating this suit and for which the defendants are called upon to make compensation. That’s more or less my understanding of cause of action. Will you agree, more or less, on that statement of a cause of action? ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Fine. Now, is he entitled to find out at pre-trial what in heaven’s name your cause of action against him is? ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor, we have stated that in our Pre-Trial Brief. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Good. Mr. Mendoza, please listen to this because he will tell us what their cause of action is against you. What is the cause of action? ATTY. TANINGCO: The cause of action is that they have taken advantage of their position to transfer the coco levy fund which is a public fund into the hands of private persons and for their own personal benefit and private gain, Your Honor, to the damage and prejudice of the coconut farmers and the Government or Filipino people.
PRESIDING JUSTICE: Mr. Mendoza, I will no longer ask the question because I think I’ve gone through this before. Are you satisfied with that cause of action? ATTY. MENDOZA: I would like to clarify whether that is the cause of action relating to these particular San Miguel shares, Your Honor, because this is not a general Complaint for damages. They are talking of specific properties, so generally what they have referred to as Cojuangco, San Miguel Corporation shares, the CIIF shares – PRESIDING JUSTICE: Are you satisfied with that statement of a cause of action or would you like something more specific with regard to the shares of stock? ATTY. MENDOZA: I’m not satisfied because that is incomprehensible, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: In other words, what you’re saying is you want a statement as to how that general statement relates now to the San Miguel shares? ATTY. MENDOZA: Yes, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Okay, how does it relate now? ATTY. TANINGCO: The money was used for the purchase of shares of stock of San Miguel shares which became – PRESIDING JUSTICE:
Which came from? The fraud is because it came from? ATTY. TANINGCO: It came from a public fund, coco levy funds then – PRESIDING JUSTICE: Whether it’s public funds or not, is a question of law that is pending. You see, we are just questioning the coconut levy funds; whether it’s public or not, is a conclusion that we will draw despite the Presidential Decrees, so don’t confuse the issue about public funds. What is now the relationship of those statements to the shares of stock of San Miguel Corporation being discussed here more particularly those in the name of Mr. Cojuangco for which Mr. Cojuangco is charged for whatever abuses he did? ATTY. TANINGCO: Well, the coco levy fund was used for the purchase or acquisition of the San Miguel shares. PRESIDING JUSTICE: In the name of Cojuangco? ATTY. TANINGCO: In the name of Cojuangco and the other – PRESIDING JUSTICE: No, no, no, in the name of Cojuangco, okay. What is your proof that it was not Cojuangco’s money but coconut levy funds that were used to buy the Soriano shares and the Ayala shares because you, the plaintiff, says this and Cojuangco does not deny that he acquired the Zobel shares or the Ayala shares whichever way you like it and the Soriano shares. Cojuangco used whatever documents you want to say he did in the process but the fact is he acquired it and Cojuangco asserts he owns these shares of stock and that’s why in public statements he is willing to talk about CIIF shares, I mean the coconut levy shares and COCOFED or anything else but he doesn’t want anything
about his other shares because he has paid his money for it. You’re saying he paid it with the use of coconut levy funds. What proof do we have that he used not his own money but the coconut levy funds to buy his shares? ATTY. TANINGCO: Well, we have the Board Resolution of the Philippine Coconut Authority, the Board Resolution of the UCPB and the COA findings, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Okay, what do these resolutions say? ATTY. TANINGCO: To the effect authorizing the acquisition of that shares of stock of San Miguel Corporation and the profits of investment – PRESIDING JUSTICE: Just a minute, which shares of stock? There are three shares of stock here, sets of shares. I keep repeating; you must listen to me because I’ve read your pleadings. So, please pretend that I understand what I’m talking about. ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: We have three sets of shares insofar as this case is concerned, Ayala shares, Soriano shares, CIIF shares. ATTY. MENDOZA: The CIIF shares are the Soriano shares, Your Honor. The Cojuangco shares were acquired from the Ayala Group and the CIIF shares were acquired from the Soriano shares. PRESIDING JUSTICE:
We are being corrected by Mr. Mendoza, so never mind. The Ayala shares belong to Mr. Cojuangco, the Soriano shares belong to the CIIF companies. Now, these are the two blocks of shares. Did PCA authorized and used coconut levy money to buy the Ayala shares? ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: What is your proof? ATTY. TANINGCO: A Board Resolution to that effect. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Bring it out. Where’s the resolution? ATTY. TANINGCO: I do not have it right now, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: So, if Mr. Mendoza can show that that is not the case, then we’re finished with the conversation, is that so? ATTY. TANINGCO: Not yet, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Teka muna. We are just talking about shares of stock here. 1) Soriano shares bought for CIIF companies. Do you want to call it Ayala shares or Zobel shares because you bought it from Zobel but they were from the Ayalas. Which one do you want to label them, the Zobel shares or the Ayala shares? Let’s use your label. What label do you want? The Zobel shares or the Ayala shares?
ATTY. TANINGCO: I think that’s the same as the thing Ayala shares, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Enrique Zobel in your Complaint, in your Pre-Trial Brief, Enrique Zobel wanted to unload his own shares of stock; the Sorianos even if the Sorianos and the Ayalas are related, the Sorianos wanted to unload their own shares of stock. Dalawang bagay yun. ATTY. TANINGCO: I got confused, Your Honor, I’m sorry. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Kaya tayo nagkakalintik-lintikan e di mo alam kung anong pinaguusapan natin. So, do you want to call it Zobel shares or Ayala shares? ATTY. TANINGCO: Ayala shares, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Now, the Soriano shares according to Mr. Mendoza were the ones acquired by the CIIF companies, is that correct or you do not know? ATTY. TANINGCO: I’m confused now, Your Honor. I’m getting mixed up. I’m sorry. PRESIDING JUSTICE: This is your moment of glory. ATTY. TANINGCO: But I got mixed up, Your Honor, I’m sorry. I have to –
PRESIDING JUSTICE: After being sorry, what now? ATTY. TANINGCO: I’m asking if – PRESIDING JUSTICE: What do we do now? Find out. ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor, I’m asking my Compañeros here. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Mr. Taningco, you are fighting a former Solicitor General; you are fighting the ACCRA; you are fighting very very substantial people and if you show them your “galling”, heaven, this is your moment of glory. Mr. Mendoza? ATTY. MENDOZA: May I request, Your Honor please, that we declare a recess for 15 minutes or half an hour so that the plaintiff’s counsel can look at their documents. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Any objection? ATTY. CATAPANG: No objection, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: When we come back, Mr. Taningco, you will know because Mr. Mendoza is now telling you he is okay. If you want to use ordinary language that means to say suck [sic] it to me, baby, let’s see what you’ve got. ATTY. MARCELO:
Your Honor please, I could sense from the statements of the counsel for the Government that they are not prepared. I’m even willing to request this Honorable Court to cancel this pretrial and reset it to another date. ATTY. UBANO: At this time, I will object to that, Your Honor. Let’s see after 30 minutes. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Suspend the proceedings. (SESSION SUSPENDED – 10:00 o’clock; RESUMED 11:00 o’clock) PRESIDING JUSTICE: We took more than half an hour. Mr. Taningco, Mr. Mendoza, Mr. Marcelo, Ms. Herbosa, Mr. Ubano, is there anything that we should hear? Your last statement was to consider the pre-trial terminated insofar as the plaintiff is concerned. Is there any statement you want to make? ATTY. TANINGCO: Your Honor please, only this morning, I got a copy of the comments to the Pre-Trial Brief filed by plaintiff. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Comments by whom? ATTY. TANINGCO: By defendant Cojuangco, Your Honor, and I think some of the questions being propounded by this Honorable Court came from this comment of defendant Cojuangco. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Counsel, we are quite original in our own questions. We did not prepare it for them and they did not prepare it for us.
ATTY. TANINGCO: Your Honor, we would like to file a reply to this comment and we would ask for 15 days for the office to file the reply to the comment of defendant Cojuangco. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Counsel, the comment of defendant Cojuangco is not a contentious pleading. The Pre-Trial Briefs and the comments thereon are not contentious pleadings; they are submissions in preparation for pre-trial and, if you wish, for them to make a statement on the one hand and as we have suggested, to aid the Court in conducting a proper pre-trial. It is not a subject matter of debate. If you see that, Mr. Taningco, the answer is no, you cannot be given time to file a reply to a comment, that’s what they’re saying and that’s what they are going to contest but you are not going to argue and debate with them in pleadings. The pre-trial is now; you are supposed to respond to those questions, you have to respond to those observations; you are supposed to respond to these now by presenting your evidence by stating the law or the provisions of the law which you think Cojuangco has violated and for which Cojuangco is to be held liable; you don’t file that pleading, Mr. Taningco, and if you think we’re going to go along with that meaning as a result of which we are going to postpone this pre-trial, no way. ATTY. TANINGCO: We just want to put the same in their proper perspective. PRESIDING JUSTICE: You can place it in proper perspective by doing it now. Mr. Taningco, please, I mean, don’t play games with us, please don’t. I mean we are now at this stage where we are wearing false teeth and receding hairlines, so don’t, please. We’ve gone through this; we’ve tried that ourselves before When we were on the other side of the bench. Please have a little respect for us and please assume that we have done things like that before and we know why it should not be done. ATTY. TANINGCO: I withdraw that manifestation, Your Honor.
PRESIDING JUSTICE: Fine. Now, what do we do now? ATTY. TANINGCO: May we request then, Your Honor, that the pre-trial be deemed terminated in order that the plaintiff will be able to present its evidence at the trial of the case. PRESIDING JUSTICE: We know that if you ask for the closure of pre-trial, the other parties can make their motions or manifestations and they can file motions for us to make judgments on the pleadings, if necessary. Are you aware of that? Are you aware that the parties can file motions on the basis of what has happened at pre-trial? Are you aware of that? ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: We cannot say that just because you’ve asked the pre-trial to be deemed terminated, we’ll now proceed to trial. Let’s just make sure that we know what we are doing. ATTY. TANINGCO: Yes, Your Honor, that’s why in our Pre-Trial Brief we have also made reservations as to the exhibits and evidence that we’re going to present. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Okay, we will make of record even in the Order that you have been duly warned about the consequences of your request to consider the pre-trial terminated on the basis of the allegations that you have made this morning. ATTY. TANINGCO:
On the basis of our Pre-Trial Brief, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: All of the documents that you have submitted and on the basis of your averments in open court this morning. You will assume full responsibility for the consequences of the motion that you are going to make. Malinaw ang usapan. ATTY. TANINGCO: In that case, I will consult first the – PRESIDING JUSTICE: What do you think you were doing before we gave you this warning? That the words you utter will be of no consequence? If we did not tell you about the consequences of your submission, you would not have consulted Mr. Simon? ATTY. TANINGCO: No, just to be sure if the Solicitor would still – PRESIDING JUSTICE: Okay, consult him. Fine. ATTY. SIMON: Yes, Your Honor, we are aware of that. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Mr. Mendoza, what do you have to say now at this stage of the proceedings, you’re half of the pre-trial? [sic] ATTY. MENDOZA: Your Honor please, we assumed that plaintiff has asked that this pre-trial be terminated because they are unable firstly, to state more concretely and definitely their cause of action meaning to say the specific flow on the basis of which they asked for the reversion of the San Miguel Corporation shares subject of this suit by the plaintiff and the particular acts which
were allegedly committed by the defendants, when I say defendants, those I represent, Your Honor, which have violated this law and on the basis of which the San Miguel Corporation shares particularly what we referred to as the Cojuangco shares be reverted to the Court. I would like to note, if Your Honors please, that before the recess, Atty. Taningco was starting to say or actually said that they take the position, that is the plaintiff takes the position, that the purchase price for the San Miguel Corporation shares of stock of the Cojuangco group particularly were paid with the use of coconut levy funds and when the Court as ked what evidence the plaintiff has to support their support their statement, Mr. Taningco started by referring to the COA Report and also PCA resolution authorizing the deposit of the coconut levy funds with the United Coconut Planters bank and beyond that he has said nothing more, so we are assuming that the plaintiff has asked for the termination of this pre-trial not because the purpose or the purposes of the pre-trial have already been achieved but simply because they can add nothing more to what they have thus far stated as to their cause of action and the evidence they intend to present. So, on that basis, if Your Honor please, we believe that pre-trial has not been achieved; plaintiff has not discharged its burden and consequently, we reserve and ask for time to make appropriate submissions in light of this, Your Honor. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Do you conform [sic] then that the pre-trial be deemed terminated insofar as defendants Cojuangco are concerned so that you yourself have nothing to add to what is now on the pleadings and on the submissions? ATTY. MENDOZA: I’m thinking carefully, Your Honor, what termination would imply. As far as we are concerned, the basic position we have stated in our Pre-Trial Brief as well as in this comment we have filed – incidentally we precisely filed this comment and served a copy by personal service on the plaintiff just so that they would respond to this; they would have time to prepare responses to this for today’s pre-trial. PRESIDING JUSTICE: When did they receive it, counsel?
ATTY. MENDOZA: On May 20, Your Honor. ATTY. TANINGCO: May 22, Your Honor. ATTY. MENDOZA: Or May 22. So, if Your Honoras please, normally in a pre-trial first, you define the issues and the most basic issue is the cause of action. As we have stated, the plaintiff has failed to identify the issues. As far as we are concerned, the plaintiff has not stated what its cause of action is. They failed to identify the acts which the defendants have allegedly committed in violation of whatever law the cause of action is based and the plaintiff has also not done that, then plaintiff is required in pre-trial to state their evidence. So, on this basis, Your Honors please, on our part, on the basis of what plaintiff has done, we will be filing – we would request for 20 days to file an appropriate motion in light of the motion of the plaintiff to terminate the pre-trial but we would request that the 20-day period be counted from a reasonable, from the time the Stenographers transcribed the notes. It is very important that we do so on the basis of the record of the proceedings not only of this morning’s pre-trial but all of those before. PRESIDING JUSTICE: Mr. Mendoza, that’s fine. xxx ATTY. MENDOZA: Yes, your Honor, I will agree to consider the case terminated on the basis of the proceedings thus far held and I make it clear that we do so because as I’ve emphasized repeatedly, in a civil complaint, the burden of proof, the burden of allegation is on the plaintiff, not to us. The plaintiff has not discharged that burden but has completely negated the existence of a cause of action and of evidence on the basis of what has happened in this pre-trial, Your Honor.
As the transcript of the proceedings on the date of the scheduled pretrial evince (Annex “A”), it is not difficult to commiserate with the late Presiding Justice Garchitorena and his palpable misery brought about by the Republic’s lawyer’s insufficient preparations. When asked to be more specific about the Republic’s cause of actions, Atty. Taningco did not quite know how to respond. Inasmuch as Atty. Taningco was reprimanded for not having a copy of his Complaint, worse still was the fact that he did not even know the specifics and details of the Complaint. In fact, it was only through the help of the other counsels that Atty. Taningco managed to locate the required pleading—or through the motion of one of the counsel’s that the Sandiganbayan broke for recess, giving Atty. Taningco some time to gather his bearings. Finally, after the break, perhaps the most exasperating point5 for the late Presiding Justice was Atty. Taningco’s sudden motion to terminate the pre-trial. It was only upon the stern warning of the serious consequences of terminating the pre-trial that Atty. Taningco decided to consult Atty. Simon. Just as the “termination of pre-trial” has serious consequences, so, too, does the pre-trial itself. The pre-trial hearing is the opportunity to thresh out, among others, the issues that would be taken up and settled by the Court, as well as the admissions and disputed facts relating to the case. As can be seen from the foregoing exchange, due to Atty. Taningco’s gross negligence and
This speaks volumes, considering the fact that the Presiding Justice expressed his exasperation, a number of times, by passionately exclaiming “son of a gun!”
insufficient preparations, the Republic failed to seize the opportunities afforded by the pre-trial to bolster its contention and fight for its case. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that, Atty. Dennis M. Taningco was a former Solicitor at the Office of the Solicitor General. (To be clear, however, at the time that he represented the Republic, he was no longer with the OSG, and was appearing thus, as one of the PCGG’s private counsels.) In fact, early in the proceedings of that day, as Atty. Taningco entered his appearance, the Presiding Justice had to clarify whether or not Atty. Taningco was appearing as part of the OSG, because of the Presiding Justice’s acquaintance with Atty. Taningco. The Republic’s lawyer’s lackluster performance is made more tragic by the fact that he must have been sufficiently acquainted with the caliber of his main opposing counsel that day, Atty. Estelito Mendoza. This is based on the fact that, in at least three cases that reached the Supreme Court, Atty. Taningco was the Solicitor, assisting then Solicitor General Mendoza.6 Knowing that he was going to be up against the former Solicitor General, with whom, as one could surmise, he had ample opportunity to work with, Atty. Taningco certainly could have prepared more diligently and, thus, performed better during the pre-trial hearing: in order to ensure that the subsequent pre-trial order would reflect and define accurately the issues and matters raised in the Republic’s Complaint and Pre-Trial Brief,
6 In the cases of Confederation of Citizens Labor Unions (CCLU) v. Hon. Carmelo C. Noriel, G.R. No. L-56902, September 21, 1982; Samahan ng Manggagawa sa Union Industries, Inc. v. Director Carmlo Noriel, G.R. No. L-50874, October 23, 1981; and PASUDECO Workers Union Officers v. Bureau of Labor Relations, G.R. No. L-50241, December 19, 1980, Atty. Dennis M. Taningco was one of the Solicitors who assisted then Solicitor General Estelito Mendoza.
and to propose matters and subjects for admission that might no longer require the further reception of evidence. The foregoing exchange during the pre-trial, however embarrassing it might be for Atty. Taningco, is fully documented on the record. This, however, is in stark contrast to this Honorable Court’s statements regarding the ensuing proceedings, with words to the following effect:
It appears that the trial concerning the disputed block of shares was not scheduled because the consideration and resolution of the aforecited motions for summary judgment occupied much of the ensuing proceedings. [Emphasis mine.]
Bereft of any footnotes, the foregoing inference, however “apparent” as this Honorable Court might claim, is not supported by evidence or the record. Just as the following observation, too, is not supported by evidence or the record:
To begin with, it is notable that the decision of November 28, 2007 did not rule on whether coconut levy funds were public funds or not. The silence of the Sandiganbayan on the matter was probably due to its not seeing the need for such ruling following its conclusion that the Republic had not preponderantly established the source of the funds used to pay the purchase price of the concerned SMC shares, and whether the shares had been acquired with the use of coconut levy funds. [Emphasis mine.]
It is respectfully submitted that such observations are misplaced and unfounded, especially for a Court that took no part in the proceedings in the Sandiganbayan. These observations read into the psychological frame of mind of the Sandiganbayan and its members, which mental conjectures are not reflected in the records of this case—and which, thus, cannot be
supported by the all-too-important referencing footnote. Contrary to this Honorable Court’s observation, it is not “the Sandiganbayan [that] became completely deprived of the means to know the necessary but crucial details of the transactions on the acquisition of the contested block of shares.” Quite unfortunately, it is the Republic that was not afforded an actual and real opportunity to present the full merits of its case; thus, effectively depriving the Republic of due process.
Matters, issues, and cases involving or relating to the Republic’s duty and right to recover ill-gotten wealth are sui generis; thus, in order to meet the substantial ends of justice and, in this case, a matter of transcendental importance, as equity dictates, a pro hac vice decision must be rendered in favor of the Republic—and the 3.5 million Filipino coconut farmers and their families who have had to endure the nearly forty year quest for justice. x-------------------------------------x “And so law in the land died. I grieve for it but I do not despair over it. I know, with a certainty no argument can turn, no wind can shake, that from its dust will rise a new and better law: more just, more human and more humane. When that will happen, I know not. That it will happen, I know.” Chief Justice Teehankee quoting Jose W. Diokno in Juan Dizon v. Brig. Gen. Vicente Eduardo
Barely one year ago, in his dissenting opinion in the case of Jesus P. Disini v. The Honorable Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 180564, Justice
Bersamin lamented how “[t]he decision inflicts a severe blow to the faltering effort of the Government to recover ill-gotten wealth from Herminio and his companies. [He insisted] that the State’s effort to recover ill-gotten wealth from whoever holds or hides it should not be obstructed or stymied. If there is going to be any “double cross,” the victims will be the Government and the long-suffering Filipino people xxx.” One could only assume that it was, then, with a heavy heart that Justice Bersamin found himself writing the words that would inflict the mortal blow to the quest for justice of the victims of the elaborate evil exactions called “coconut levies”—all 3.5 million Filipino coconut farmers who, counted together with their families, number in the upwards of 20 million Filipinos. In many ways, the quest of the Republic is an effort to right the wrongs of history—and by Justice Bersamin’s ponencia, history is writ. Perhaps, then, before the ink dries and sets, this page could sit a little while longer, and a happier epilogue would close this unfortunate section in the Marcos chapter of Philippine history. Justice Bersamin’s lament would have been misplaced twenty five years ago, when the efforts of the Republic to recover all ill-gotten wealth, through the PCGG, was not only not faltering, it was praised and cheered. The Court has, on numerous occasions, affirmed and accepted as true what is borne out by Philippine history—the factual premises that motivated and compelled the Republic to embark on the path to recover all ill-gotten wealth. The efforts of the Republic to rise from the ashes of the Marcosian razing and pillaging of public coffers were lauded to be historical—and history in the making.
Without much strain, the Court has never shirked from its prerogative to take judicial notice of matters that, at the time, were already historical and of general knowledge. In light of these historically factual circumstances, in the landmark case of Presidential Commission on Good Government v. Hon. Emmanuel G. Peña, G.R. No. 77663, 12 April 1988, the Court, speaking through Chief Justice Teehankee, wrote:
Having been charged with the herculean task of bailing the country-out of the financial bankruptcy and morass of the previous regime and returning to the people what is rightfully theirs, the Commission could ill-afford to be impeded or restrained in the performance of its functions by writs or injunctions emanating from tribunals co-equal to it and inferior to this Court. Public policy dictates that the Commission be not embroiled in and swamped by legal suits before inferior courts all over the land, since the loss of time and energy required to defend against such suits would defeat the very purpose of its creation. Hence, section 4(a) of Executive Order No. 1 has expressly accorded the Commission and its members immunity from suit for damages in that: "No civil action shall lie against the Commission or any member thereof for anything done or omitted in the discharge of the task contemplated by this order." xxx xxx xxx
The rationale of the exclusivity of such jurisdiction is readily understood. Given the magnitude of the past regime's "organized pillage" and the ingenuity of the plunderers and pillagers with the assistance of the experts and best legal minds available in the market, it is a matter of sheer necessity to restrict access to the lower courts, which would have tied into knots and made impossible the Commission's gigantic task of recovering the plundered wealth of the nation, whom the past regime in the process had saddled and laid prostrate with a huge $27 billion foreign debt that has since ballooned to $28.5 billion. xxx xxx xxx
Hence, the imperative need for the Government of the restored Republic as its first official act to create the
Commission as an administrative and quasi-judicial commission to recover the ill-gotten wealth "amassed from vast resources of the government by the former President, his immediate family, relatives and close associates." 14 What has not been appreciated by respondents and others similarly situated is that the provisional remedies (including the encompassing and rarely availed of remedy of provisional takeover) granted to the Commission in pursuing its life-and-death mission to recover from a well-entrenched plundering regime of twenty years, the ill-gotten wealth which rightfully belongs to the Republic although pillaged and plundered in the name of dummy or front companies, in several known instances carried out with the bold and mercenary, if not reckless, cooperation and assistance of members of the bar as supposed nominees, the full extent of which has yet to be uncovered, are rooted in the police power of the State, the most pervasive and the least limitable of the powers of Government since it represents "the power of sovereignty, the power to govern men and things within the limits of its domain." 21 Police power has been defined as the power inherent in the State "to prescribe regulations to promote the health, morals, education, good order or safety, and general welfare of the people." 22 Police power rests upon public necessity and upon the right of the State and of the public to self-protection. 23 " Salus populi suprema est lex" — the welfare of the people is the supreme law. For this reason, it is coextensive with the necessities of the case and the safeguards of public interest. Its scope expands and contracts with changing needs. 24 "It may be said in a general way that the police power extends to all the great public needs. It may be put forth in aid of what is sanctioned by usage, or held by the prevailing morality or strong and preponderant opinion to be greatly and immediately necessary to the public welfare." 25 That the public interest and the general welfare are subserved by sequestering the purported ill-gotten assets and properties and taking over stolen properties of the government channeled to dummy or front companies is stating the obvious. The recovery of these ill-gotten assets and properties would greatly aid our financially crippled government and hasten our national economic recovery, not to mention the fact that they rightfully belong to the people. While as a measure of self-protection, if, in the interest of general
welfare, police power, may be exercised to protect citizens and their businesses in financial and economic matters, it may similarly be exercised to protect the government itself against potential financial loss and the possible disruption of governmental functions. Police power as the power of self-protection on the part of the community that the principle of self-defense bears to the individual. 26 Truly, it may be said that even more than self-defense, the recovery of ill-gotten wealth and of the government's own properties involves the material and moral survival of the nation, marked as the past regime was by the obliteration of any line between private funds and the public treasury and abuse of unlimited power and elimination of any accountability in public office, as is a matter of public record and knowledge. xxx xxx xxx
A final word about the alleged misdeeds of the OIC which the Solicitor General has denounced as false and unfounded. 27 Such alleged misdeeds, even if taken as true for the nonce, do not and cannot detract from the Commission's accomplishments in the unselfish service of the nation, rendered with integrity and honor and without the least taint of scandal and self-interest (in welcome contrast to the past regime's rape and plunder sub-silentio of the nation!). In our free and democratic space now, with full restoration of a free press and the people's liberties, it should be acknowledged with some sort of appreciation that any such misdeeds on the part of the Commission's representative or agents have been subjected to full public exposure and the erring parties dismissed and replaced.
An excursion into the historical facts and circumstances that led to the creation of the PCGG reveals the context in which the Republic has had to begin its long uphill climb to recover from the Marcosian plunder. The story of the Republic’s efforts to recover all ill-gotten wealth, through the PCGG, has since been inextricably bound up with the Honorable Court’s learned and lucid disquisitions on the matter. During such critical junctures, this
Honorable Court’s decisions have been, not only historical, but historymaking. This Court’s factual findings and discussions, insofar as they coincided with the historical reality they sought to describe were, in many ways, historiography. The Court’s imprimatur, being the last bulwark of democracy, often determined the point upon which the Republic’s efforts turned—elevating the Court’s narrative accounts from being the mere writing of history, i.e. historiography, into something more transcendent, the making (or unmaking of history). That the Court has been mindful of its place and power in charting the country’s history is apparent from the discussions in the landmark case of Ferdinand E. Marcos v. Honorable Raul M. Manglapus, penned by the late Justice Cortes:
Before the Court is a controversy of grave national importance. While ostensibly only legal issues are involved, the Court’s decision in this case would undeniably have a profound effect on the political, economic and other aspects of national life. We recall that in February 1986, Ferdinand E. Marcos was deposed from the presidency via the non-violent “people power” revolution and forced into exile. In his stead, Corazon C. Aquino was declared President of the Republic under a revolutionary government. xxx xxx xxx
Nor are the woes of the Republic purely political. The accumulated foreign debt and the plunder of the nation attributed to Mr. Marcos and his cronies left the economy devastated. The efforts at economic recovery, three years after Mrs. Aquino assumed office, have yet to show concrete results in alleviating the poverty of the masses, while the recovery of the illgotten wealth of the Marcoses has remained elusive. xxx xxx xxx
This case is unique. It should not create a precedent, for the case of a dictator forced out of office and into exile after causing twenty years of political, economic and social havoc in the country and who within the short space of three years seeks to return, is in a class by itself. xxx xxx xxx
We cannot also lose sight of the fact that the country is only now beginning to recover from the hardships brought about by the plunder of the economy attributed to the Marcoses and their close associates and relatives, many of whom are still here in the Philippines in a position to destabilize the country, while the Government has barely scratched the surface, so to speak, in its efforts to recover the enormous wealth stashed away by the Marcoses in foreign jurisdictions. Then, We cannot ignore the continually increasing burden imposed on the economy by the excessive foreign borrowing during the Marcos regime, which stifles and stagnates development and is one of the root causes of widespread poverty and all its attendant ills. The resulting precarious state of our economy is of common knowledge and is easily within the ambit of judicial notice.
As the foregoing passage reveals, the Court’s appreciation of history determined its characterization and its resolution of the case. Not pragmatism, but justice dictated the Court. It was not the passage of time that established the events that were then “recent” as, nonetheless, historical and within common knowledge—and thus, “easily within the ambit of judicial notice”—rather, it was the notoriety of the pestilence that the late dictator wreaked and left in his wake. Time might dull a person’s senses, but not his or her sensibilities: moreso, in remembering episodes in Philippine history, mucked and mired in Marcosian mockery, much to the misery of many. One could only hope that the passage of time has left these matters—of the late
dictator, his family, and cronies—as self-evident truths, calcified by the common experience of the Filipino people—for, certainly, if they have yet to be written in the history books, there is no doubt that they are historical. To those too young to know first-hand the Marcosian ordeal, they can always turn to their elders for guidance. To those old enough to know and for whom forgetting is an all-too-late option, they can only turn to aspire to eternity—in humble supplication for a glimpse of heaven—and heed its consequent advice for fear that they, too, might fall on the wrong side of history. Failing which, as the history of this Court reveals (for this institution was not spared from the corruption wrought upon it by the late dictator), upon the Court and its members was heaped the maligning moniker of being a “Marcos Court.” Thankfully, from the dust did rise, “a new and better law: more just, more human and more humane.” Barely seven months after the People People Revolution of 1986, on 12 September 1986, in the case of Saturnina Galman, et al. v. Sandiganbayan, the Court had occasion to write:
xxx. There has been the long dark night of authoritarian regime, since the fake ambush in September, 1972 of then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile (as now admitted by Enrile himself) was staged to trigger the imposition of martial law and authoritarian one-man rule, with the padlocking of Congress and the abolition of the office of the Vice-President. As recently retired Senior Justice Vicente Abad Santos recalled in his valedictory to the new members of the Bar last May, “In the past few years, the judiciary was under heavy attack by an extremely power executive. During this state of judicial siege, lawyers both in and outside the judiciary perceptively surrendered to the animus of technicality. In the end, morality was overwhelmed by technicality, so that the latter emerged ugly and naked in its true manifestation.”
Now that the light is emerging, the Supreme Court faces the task of restoring public faith and confidence in the courts. The Supreme Court enjoys neither the power of the sword nor of the purse. Its strength lies mainly in public confidence, based on the truth and moral force of its judgments. This has been built on its cherished traditions of objectivity and impartiality, integrity and fairness and unswerving loyalty to the Constitution and the rule of law which compels acceptance as well by the leadership as by the people. The lower courts draw their bearings from the Supreme Court. With this Court’s judgment today declaring the nullity of the questioned judgment or acquittal and directing a new trial, there must be a rejection of the temptation of becoming instruments of injustice as vigorously as we rejected becoming its victims. The end of one form of injustice should not become simply the beginning of another. This simply means that the respondents accused must now face trial for the crimes charged against them before an impartial court with an unbiased prosecutor with all due process. What the past regime had denied the people and the aggrieved parties in the sham trial must now be assured as much to the accused as to the aggrieved parties. The people will assuredly have a way of knowing when justice has prevailed as well as when it has failed. The notion nurtured under the past regime that those appointed to public office owe their primary allegiance to the appointing authority and are accountable to him alone and not to the people or the Constitution must be discarded. The function of the appointing authority with the mandate of the people, under our system of government, is to fill the public posts. While the appointee may acknowledge with gratitude the opportunity thus given of rendering public service, the appointing authority becomes functus officio and the primary loyalty of the appointed must be rendered to the Constitution and the sovereign people in accordance with his sacred oath of office. To paraphrase the late Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, the Justices and judges must ever realize that they have no constituency, serve no majority nor minority but serve only the public interest as they see it in accordance with their oath of office, guided only, the Constitution and their own conscience and honor.
Knowing history has made this Court mindful of its place in history, as Chief Justice Teehankee wrote in the case of Juan Dizon v. Brig. Gen. Vicente Eduardo, G.R. No. L-59118, March 3, 1988:
What is not found in the proceedings or opinions and which should now be made part of the record for the sake of historical truth is that what precipitated the sudden order releasing Diokno on September 11, 1974 was that Mme. Justice Cecilia Munoz-Palma, who had been appointed to the Court with two others on October 21, 1973, had submitted a dissent with her separate opinion assailing Diokno's continued detention for two years without charges as a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This promptly reached the big ears of Mr. Marcos and he forthwith issued the release order and aborted Justice Palma's dissent. The Court's 11-member 4 opinionresolution dismissing all petitions and upholding the validity of the proclamation of martial law with eight separate opinions was ultimately released on September 17, 1974. 5
Minding not that, nowhere in the Rules of Court did Chief Justice Teehankee’s “making part of the record for the sake of historical truth” appear—it was a procedure that was dictated, true to Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.’s advice, “the life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.” After all, just as it is more procedurally sound to amend pleadings to conform to the evidence, the experience and logic of life commands that even this Court’s decisions should conform to history—lest its account and narrative of it be left wanting, and the Court, then, said to be mistaken. It is within these circumstances that the fate of the Court and the efforts of the Republic are intermarried. For just as the Republic vigorously
fights for the rights and welfare of the people, the Court—the people’s conscience and sensibilities made manifest—stands, not idly by, but with them. In the case of Heirs of Gregorio Licaros v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 157438, this Court stated that:
This Court is as interested as the government in recovering ill-gotten wealth. We commend the present leadership of both the PCGG and the OSG for their demonstrated zeal in prosecuting this case. xxx xxx xxx xxx
After nearly twenty years, the commitment to exorcise the specter of the bygone dictatorship, a resolve that was forged on the streets of EDSA in 1986, may have sadly been lost to memory. Those who are tasked to undo past wrongs and transgressions are exhorted to tenaciously and steadfastly keep the resolve alive, so that our people could at last put a closure to this dark chapter in our history, avoid the same thorny path, and move forward in the quest for our nation’s destiny.
That the Republic’s continuing efforts arose out of the foregoing extraordinary factual historical circumstances is but one aspect of what makes its cases and actions involving and relating to the recovery of ill-gotten wealth sui generis. In the case of Republic of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 113420, this Court disclaimed that:
In all cases involving alleged ill-gotten wealth brought by or against the Presidential Commission on Good Government, it is the policy of this Court to set aside technicalities and formalities that serve merely to delay or impede their judicious resolution. xxx
The foregoing discussion was, once echoed once more, in the case of Republic of the Philippines v. Sandiganbayan, G.R. No. 159275, a
decision penned by Justice Villarama, Jr. who, mindful of the legal basis of such a pronouncement, noted that:
Executive Order No. 14, series of 1986, issued by former President Corazon C. Aquino, provided that technical rules of procedure and evidence shall not be strictly applied to cases involving ill-gotten wealth. xxx.
Aside from the express legal direction provided by Executive Order No. 14, in that cases involving ill-gotten wealth shall not be bound by technical rules of procedure and evidence, the same is, likewise, consistent with the nature of the PCGG as an administrative agency with quasi-judicial functions. As such, as with any other quasi-judicial and administrative agency, the PCGG, too, in the conduct of its hearings are not bound by technical rules of procedure. Beyond the curious historical extraordinary circumstances that engendered and prompted its genesis, and the laws and jurisprudence that support the contention of setting matters and cases involving or relating to the recovery of ill-gotten wealth apart, an examination of what this Court has deemed to be sui generis invariably suggests a mold from which this cast has been drawn. By and because of the very nature of sui generis cases, the Court has yet to make a definitive settlement and pronouncement, that is, guidelines and doctrinal rulings on what sets a class of cases apart as a class of their own. This is not to say, however, that one cannot intuit, by adverting to a survey of such cases and matters that the Court has declared to be sui generis. After all,
while, at this juncture, the Court has yet to define the essence of what makes cases and matters sui generis, the Court has done so often enough that a narration of them could hint at their quintessence. (a) EXTRADITION. In the case of Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region v. Hon. Felixberto T. Olalia, G.R. No. 153675, the Court held that:
Extradition has thus been characterized as the right of a foreign power, created by treaty, to demand the surrender of one accused or convicted of a crime within its territorial jurisdiction, and the correlative duty of the other state to surrender him to the demanding state. It is not a criminal proceeding. Even if the potential extraditee is a criminal, an extradition proceeding is not by its nature criminal, for it is not punishment for a crime, even though such punishment may follow extradition. It is sui generis, tracing its existence wholly to treaty obligations between different nations. It is not a trial to determine the guilt or innocence of the potential extraditee. Nor is it a full-blown civil action, but one that is merely administrative in character. Its object is to prevent the escape of a person accused or convicted of a crime and to secure his return to the state from which he fled, for the purpose of trial or punishment.
(b) CONTEMPT. In the case of Dr. Jaime O. Sevilla v. Judge Abraham B. Borreta, A.M. No. RTJ-04-1836, this Court discussed, as follows:
Indeed, contempt is in the nature of a criminal action, but only with regard to its procedural aspect. A contempt proceeding is sui generis. While it has elements of both a civil and a criminal proceeding, it is not a criminal proceeding even though the contemptuous act involved could be a crime. It is remedial and civil in nature. It is for the enforcement of a duty. It is auxiliary to the main case as it proceeds out of the original case. It is essentially a new and independent proceeding in that it involves new issues and must be initiated by the issuance and service of a
new process. Contempt under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court is a special civil action that cannot be converted into a criminal action.
(c) SURVEY. In the case of Mario Z. Titong v. The Honorable Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 111141, the Court explained that:
A survey is the act by which the quantity of a parcel of land is ascertained and also a paper containing a statement of courses, distances, and quantity of land. A survey under a proprietary title is not a conveyance. It is an instrument sui generis in the nature of a partition; a customary mode in which a proprietor has set off to himself in severalty a part of the common estate. Therefore, a survey, not being a conveyance, is not a mode of acquiring ownership. A fortiori, petitioner cannot found his claim on the survey plan reflecting a subdivision of land because it is not conclusive as to ownership as it may refer only to a delineation of possession.
(d) MILITARY LAW. In the case of LT. (SG) EUGENE GONZALES, et al. v. GEN. NARCISO ABAYA, G.R. No. 164007, the Court elaborated by saying that:
Military law is sui generis (Calley v. Callaway, 519 F.2d 184 ), applicable only to military personnel because the military constitutes an armed organization requiring a system of discipline separate from that of civilians (see Orloff v. Willoughby, 345 U.S. 83 ). Military personnel carry high-powered arms and other lethal weapons not allowed to civilians. History, experience, and the nature of a military organization dictate that military personnel must be subjected to a separate disciplinary system not applicable to unarmed civilians or unarmed government personnel.
APPEALS, G.R. No. 107199, citing the case of Beltran v. PAIC Finance Corporation, the Court held that:
A financing lease may be seen to be a contract sui generis, possessing some but not necessarily all the elements of an ordinary or civil law lease. Thus, legal title to the equipment leased is lodged in the financial lessor. The financial lessee is entitled to the possession and use of the leased equipment. At the same time, the financial lessee is obligated to make periodic payments denominated as lease rentals, which enable the financial lessor to recover the purchase price of the equipment which had been paid to the supplier thereof….
(f) CITIZENSHIP. In the case of CARLOS T. GO, SR. v. LUIS T. RAMOS, G.R. 167569, the Court held that:
Carlos and Jimmy’s claim that the cause of action of the Bureau has prescribed is untenable. Cases involving issues on citizenship are sui generis. Once the citizenship of an individual is put into question, it necessarily has to be threshed out and decided upon. In the case of Frivaldo v. Commission on Elections,7 we said that decisions declaring the acquisition or denial of citizenship cannot govern a person’s future status with finality. This is because a person may subsequently reacquire, or for that matter, lose his citizenship under any of the modes recognized by law for the purpose.8 Indeed, if the issue of one’s citizenship, after it has been passed upon by the courts, leaves it still open to future adjudication, then there is more reason why the government should not be precluded from questioning one’s claim to Philippine citizenship, especially so when the same has never been threshed out by any tribunal.
(g) IMPEACHMENT. Justice Corona, citing Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, in his separate opinion in the case of ERNESTO B. FRANCISCO, JR.
v. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, G.R. Nos. 160261-63 wrote:
Impeachment has been described as sui generis and an “exceptional method of removing exceptional public officials (that must be) exercised by the Congress with exceptional caution.”9 Thus, it is directed only at an exclusive list of officials, providing for complex procedures, exclusive grounds and very stringent limitations. The implied constitutional caveat on impeachment is that Congress should use that awesome power only for protecting the welfare of the state and the people, and not merely the personal interests of a few.
(h) DISBARMENT CASES. In RAMON C. GONZALEZ v. ATTY. ARNEL C. ALCARAZ, A.C. 5321, the Court held that:
Well-established is the rule that administrative cases against lawyers belong to a class of their own. These cases are distinct from and proceed independently of civil and criminal cases. In Re Almacen, the Court discoursed on this point thus:
“x x x [D]isciplinary proceedings [against lawyers] are sui generis. Neither purely civil nor purely criminal, x x x [they do] not involve x x x a trial of an action or a suit, but [are] rather investigation[s] by the Court into the conduct of its officers. Not being intended to inflict punishment, [they are] in no sense a criminal prosecution. Accordingly, there is neither a plaintiff nor a prosecutor therein. [They] may be initiated by the Court motu proprio. Public interest is [their] primary objective, and the real question for determination is whether or not the attorney is still a fit person to be allowed the privileges as such. Hence, in the exercise of its disciplinary powers, the Court merely calls upon a member of the Bar to account for his actuations as an officer of the Court with the end in view of preserving the purity of the legal profession and the proper and honest administration of justice by purging the profession of members who by their misconduct have prove[n] themselves no longer worthy to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities pertaining to the office of an attorney. x x x.”10
(i) PHILIPPINE NATIONAL RED CROSS. Most lucidly, Justice Abad, in his concurring opinion in the case of DANTE V. LIBAN
v. RICHARD J. GORDON, G.R. No. 175352, made the following illuminating discussion on the ramifications of being sui generis:
Finally, the sui generis character of the PNRC does not necessarily overturn the rulings of the Court in Camporedondo and Baluyot. The PNRC’s exceptional nature admits of the conclusions reached in those cases that the PNRC is a GOCC for the purpose of enforcement of labor laws and penal statutes. The PNRC’s sui generis character compels us to approach controversies involving the PNRC on a case-to-case basis, bearing in mind its distinct nature, purposes and special functions. Rules that govern traditional private or public entities may thus be adjusted in relation to the PNRC and in accordance with the circumstances of each case. [Emphasis mine.]
The foregoing survey does not, by any means, represent a comprehensive and complete listing of jurisprudence relating to matters and issues that are sui generis. Having stated the foregoing disclaimer, the proceeding prayer neither rises nor falls on the completeness of such listing. After all, while on the matter of what makes certain cases or subjects a “class of their own” there is, as yet, no definitive pronouncement, a careful scrutiny of the foregoing survey regarding “sui generis cases as a category of cases” would inevitably lead to the observation that, so, too must this present case be deemed to be sui generis. In so doing, and in light of the previous discussions, it is humbly submitted and urged that this Honorable Court definitively declare and pronounce cases, matters, and issues relating to the recovery of ill-gotten wealth—such as this whose reconsideration is presently sought—as sui generis. On parallel lines of thought, from such characterization could flow the optimism and hope that Justice Abad’s enlightened view that these cases, too, could be approached on a case-to-case basis, bearing in mind
the nature, purposes, and special functions—and the peculiar and unique circumstances of these cases and matters relating to the recovery of ill-gotten wealth. “Excepting” does not offend the rule of law, rather, it is consistent with it. After all, no system of laws makes any pretensions of being so perfect as to foresee and contemplate the myriad possibilities that human experience can engender and birth. For this reason, “exceptions”—and the possibility of carving them out—are made part of every rule. In the case of Roberto Brillante v. Court of Appeals, G.R. Nos. 118757 & 121571, for example, this Honorable Court, in a Resolution penned by Justice Tinga made the following pronouncements:
We believe, however, that the penalty of imprisonment imposed against Brillante should be re-examined and reconsidered. Although this matter was neither raised in Brillante’s petition nor in the instant motion, we advert to the well-established rule that an appeal in a criminal proceeding throws the whole case open for review of all its aspects, including those not raised by the parties. [Emphasis mine.]
In numerous instances, the Court has, likewise, relaxed or suspended its own Rules in order to serve the ends of justice. In the case of LOURDES DELA CRUZ v. HON. COURT OF APPEALS, G.R. No. 139442, Justice Velasco, Jr., speaking for the Court, wrote:
The case of Barnes v. Padilla elucidates the rationale behind the exercise by this Court of the power to relax, or even suspend, the application of the rules of procedure:
Let it be emphasized that the rules of procedure should be viewed as mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice. Their strict and rigid application, which would result in technicalities that tend to frustrate rather than promote substantial justice, must always be eschewed. Even the Rules of Court reflect this principle. The power to suspend or even disregard rules can be so pervasive and compelling as to alter even that which this Court itself has already declared to be final x x x. The emerging trend in the rulings of this Court is to afford every party litigant the amplest opportunity for the proper and just determination of his cause, free from the constraints of technicalities. Time and again, this Court has consistently held that rules must not be applied rigidly so as not to override substantial justice.
In other instances, matters of “paramount and transcendental importance” have been settled by the Court in the following wise:
So it was that in Oposa v. Factoran, Jr. the Court stated that the right to a balanced and healthful ecology need not even be written in the Constitution for it is assumed, like other civil and political rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights, to exist from the inception of mankind and it is an issue of transcendental importance with intergenerational implications. Even assuming the absence of a categorical legal provision specifically prodding petitioners to clean up the bay, they and the men and women representing them cannot escape their obligation to future generations of Filipinos to keep the waters of the Manila Bay clean and clear as humanly as possible. Anything less would be a betrayal of the trust reposed in them.
More emphatically, in the 5 April 2011 decision in APO FRUITS CORPORATION v. LAND BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 164195, the Court, emphasized that the characterization of issues as matters of “transcendental importance” can be significant in emphasizing the “overriding public interest”:
In a last ditch attempt to muddle the issues, the LBP focuses on our use of the phrase “transcendental importance,” and asserts that we erred in applying this
doctrine, applicable only to legal standing questions, to negate the doctrine of immutability of judgment. This is a very myopic reading of our ruling as the context clearly shows that the phrase “transcendental importance” was used only to emphasize the overriding public interest involved in this case. Thus, we said:
That the issues posed by this case are of transcendental importance is not hard to discern from these discussions. A constitutional limitation, guaranteed under no less than the all-important Bill of Rights, is at stake in this case: how can compensation in an eminent domain case be “just” when the payment for the compensation for property already taken has been unreasonably delayed? To claim, as the assailed Resolution does, that only private interest is involved in this case is to forget that an expropriation involves the government as a necessary actor. It forgets, too, that under eminent domain, the constitutional limits or standards apply to government who carries the burden of showing that these standards have been met. Thus, to simply dismiss the case as a private interest matter is an extremely shortsighted view that this Court should not leave uncorrected. xxxx More than the stability of our jurisprudence, the matter before us is of transcendental importance to the nation because of the subject matter involved – agrarian reform, a societal objective of that the government has unceasingly sought to achieve in the past half century.
From this perspective, our Resolution of October 12, 2010 only had to demonstrate, as it did, that the higher interests of justice are duly served. xxx.
Finally, with this Honorable Court’s resolution to approve A.M. No. 10-4-20-SC, otherwise known as “The Internal Rules of the Supreme Court,” all doubts were settled as to the place and propriety of equity, in the Court’s exercise of its judicial function. Rule 3, on the The Exercise of Judicial Function, thus, states: SECTION 1. The Supreme Court a court of law.— The Court is a court of law. Its primary task is to resolve and decide cases and issues presented by litigants according to law. However, it may apply equity where the court is unable to arrive at a conclusion or
judgment strictly on the basis of law due to a gap, silence, obscurity or vagueness of the law that the Court can still legitimately remedy, and the special circumstances of the case. The special circumstances of this case—and all other cases and matters relating to or involving the recovery of ill-gotten wealth—make this (and these matters and cases) sui generis. That the present case is sui generis provides, among others, equity as an avenue for serving the substantial ends of justice in resolving a matter, such as this, involving issues and concerns of paramount and transcendental importance and impressed with overriding public interest. That the foregoing statement is compounded to the full is a necessary reiteration and underscoring of the peculiar circumstances of this case that an overly strict, legalistic, and formalistic resolution would work a great injustice to the 3.5 million Filipino coconut farmers who, counting together with their families, number upwards of 20 million. Worse still, reaching a contrary resolution—that is, to the defeat and detriment of the Republic and the interests of the long-suffering Filipino coconut farmers and their families—would risk a re-writing of history. Already, history books and scholarly publications are in existence that detail of and study the “crony capitalism” that marked and marred the Marcos dictatorship. On these matters, they have gone to discuss the dictatorial decrees, machinations, and schemes that were worked upon the coconut farmers—to serve the benefit of Mr. Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. These numerous sources pointing to the same factual claims meet at the intersection
of probabilities. After all, how could so many people be so wrong about what they all collectively had to endure? “Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal,” the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once famously uttered. It was widely perceived that it was with the imprimatur of this Court that, during the dictatorship, it had countenanced far too many and too much of the dictator’s wrongdoing. It is to the credit of the gains of EDSA that, two and a half decades since our Republic’s democracy, rule of law, and moral order was restored by The Revolution, one can utter the foregoing statement without fear of contempt or reprisal. Just as this Honorable Court then, in the case of JUAN DIZON v. BRIG. GEN. VICENTE EDUARDO boldly and justly made part of its ponencia an account for the sake of reflecting historical truth, it behooves this Honorable Court to rise to the challenge of standing its ground firmly on the right side of history. Evidence is offered in support of and to substantiate facts and claims. It is the Court’s province and duty, in the interests of justice, to appreciate facts and string together pieces of evidence in order to ferret out the truth and render what is just. Assuming without conceding that, as this Court has found, “evidence” is allegedly left wanting, then it is to the credit of the great crime that was perpetrated upon our Filipino farmers and our people that this wicked web would work its deceit. Just as the Republic would seek every recourse and
exhaust all efforts to gather all the pieces of evidence available, so, too, would those who seek to do wrong avail of all avenues to hide their wrongdoing. And so, just as evidence speaks to support the purposes for which they are offered, so, too, does their unavailability speak volumes as to the deviousness of the evil conceit. This Court cannot, in the name of justice and equity, close its eyes to the truths that have become self-evident by virtue of the passage of time. To disturb these facts that have been calcified by time—and whose ill-effects continue to be felt to the present day—would risk rupturing the very fabric of historical reality. Lady Justice’s blindfold should not preclude her from resorting to her other faculties and sensibilities. Having been squeezed dry and levied out of their blood, sweat, and tears, our farmers would have to endure the injustice of being left with nothing. There can be no greater tragedy—or travesty. For then, the question that has paupered our farmers, still begs to be asked: where is their money?
WHEREFORE, the Republic reiterates its prayer in its Motion for Reconsideration (dated April 28, 2011) for the Honorable Court to reconsider and set aside its Decision promulgated on April 12, 2011, and a new one be issued, as follows:
Declaring that the subject SMC shares
of stock were purchased with public funds; 2. Declaring that respondent Eduardo
M. Cojuangco, Jr. grossly breached his fiduciary obligation as an officer of the UCPB when he acquired the said shares; 3. Declaring that respondents Eduardo
M. Cojuangco, Jr., et al. have not legally and validly obtained title over the subject SMC shares of stock; 4. Ordering the reconveyance of the
subject SMC shares of stock in the name of respondents Eduardo M. Cojuangco, Jr. and Cojuangco Companies, including all its increments (stock and cash) and dividends, in favor of the government; and, 5. Declaring petitioner Republic of the
Philippines, finally and conclusively, to be the true, lawful and absolute owner of the subject SMC shares of stock in trust for all coconut farmers.
In the alternative, the Republic prays that this Honorable Court declare all issues, matters, and cases relating or relevant to the recovery of illgotten wealth to be sui generis. Proceeding from which premise, for this
Honorable Court, being both a court of law and a court of equity, to resolve in a pro hac vice Decision the instant case in favor of the Republic either in the grant of the foregoing reliefs or in the remand of this case to the Sandiganbayan to afford the Republic a real opportunity to present the full merits of its case.
It is, likewise, prayed that petitioner be granted such other reliefs as are just and equitable under the premises.
Makati City for City of Manila, Metro Manila, May 2, 2011.
OFFICE OF THE SOLICITOR GENERAL 134 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village Makati City Tel. Nos. 818-6301 to 09 (Trunkline) Fax No. 8176037 Website: www.osg.gov.ph Email: email@example.com
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